No parent wishes to see their sports-loving child sitting on the sidelines, but knee injuries put thousands of young athletes on the bench every year. It’s not unusual for kids to fracture, sprain, strain, or dislocate the knee joint while using the field or simply goofing around with friends.
Many kids simply need a few days or weeks of rest to recover from a knee injury. Severe cases can need surgery and a longer recovery prior to kids are walking once again and back on the playing field.
Knee injuries in children and teen athletes may be the outcome of intense, distressing injuries, such as an unexpected fall, or chronic, repetitive overuse injuries. sometimes, a knee injury might be the result of a mix of both factors– an athlete might have a chronic problem that suddenly worsens due to an intense terrible occasion. these injuries may result in different symptoms including pain, instability, swelling, and stiffness.
How the Knee Works
To comprehend how injuries take place, it helps to know how the knee works. The knee is the biggest joint in the body; it provides stability and enables the legs to bend, rotate, and align.
The knee joint is at completions of the femur (thighbone) and the tibia (shinbone); it is safeguarded by the patella (kneecap). Completions of the femur and tibia and the back of the patella are covered in articular cartilage, which functions as a cushion to keep the thigh, patella, and tibia from grinding against each other. On the top of the tibia, extra pads of cartilage called menisci help soak up the body’s weight. Each knee has two menisci– the within (medial) meniscus and the outside (lateral) meniscus.
The muscles around the knee consist of the quadriceps, a large muscle at the front of the thigh, and the hamstrings, located at the back of the thigh. The quadriceps help align the leg and the hamstrings help flex the knee.
Numerous tendons– cables of strong tissue that link muscles to bones– work together to help move the knee. The tendons in the knee are the quadriceps tendon, the patellar tendon, and the hamstring tendons. All interact to enable the leg to extend.
Ligaments are cables of strong tissue that link bones to bones. The 4 main ligaments in the knee that assist connect the thigh to the tibia and keep the knees steady are:
- medial security ligament (MCL): connects the femur to the tibia along the within the knee. It keeps the inner part of the knee steady and assists control the sideways movement of the knee, keeping it from flexing inward.
- lateral security ligament (LCL): connects the thigh to the tibia along the beyond the knee. It keeps the outer part of the knee stable and assists control the sideways motion of the knee, keeping it from flexing outside.
- anterior cruciate ligament (ACL): links the thigh to the tibia at the center of the knee. It assists manage the knee’s rotation and forward motion.
- posterior cruciate ligament (PCL): connects the thigh to the tibia at the back of the knee. It assists manage the knee’s backwards movement.
Types of Knee Injuries
Due to the fact that the knee is such an intricate joint with lots of moving parts, knee injuries are rather typical. Regular causes of injuries are overuse (from recurring movements, as in numerous sports), unexpected stops or twists, or direct blows to the knee.
Typical injuries amongst kids include:
Knee sprains usually involve damage to the ACL and/or MCL. The most major sprains include complete tears of one or more of the knee ligaments. Symptoms of knee sprains include:
- a popping or snapping sound in the knee at the time of injury
- pain that appears to come from within the knee, especially with motion
- not being able to bear weight on that leg
- the knee feels loose or unstable
A strain happens when a child partially or completely tears a muscle or tendon. With knee pressures, kids might have bruising around the knee in addition to the symptoms pointed out above for sprains.
Tendonitis takes place when a tendon gets inflamed or irritated. It is typically triggered by overuse or poor training (such as lack of strength exercises or extending). A child with tendonitis may have pain or inflammation when walking or at rest, or when bending, extending, or lifting a leg.
Meniscal Cartilage Tears
Damage to the menisci is a typical sports injury, particularly in sports where kids have abrupt changes in speed or make side-to-side motions. Meniscal injuries can occur together with severe sprains, especially those including the ACL. Meniscal injuries can cause tenderness, tightness, and swelling around the front of the knee. Often fluid collects around the knee (known as effusion).
Fractures and Dislocations
A fracture is a broken, broken, or shattered bone. Kids may have difficulty moving the bone and are most likely to have a lot of pain. Patellar dislocation happens when the patella is knocked off to the side of the knee joint, by twisting or some sort of impact. Often it will go back to its normal position by itself, but usually needs to be put back in place by a doctor. Symptoms consist of swelling and pain in the front of the knee, an unusual bulge on the side of the knee, and inability to walk on the leg with the impacted knee.
Articular Cartilage Injuries
Often a small piece of bone or articular cartilage softens and/or breaks off from completion of a bone, triggering long-term knee pain. This is called osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). Symptoms include pain; swelling; a failure to move the joint; and stiffness, catching (” locked knee”), or popping sensations with knee motion.
Chondromalacia pattellae occurs when the cartilage in the patella softens or deteriorates because of injury, muscle weakness, or overuse, and the patella and the thighbone may rub together. This causes pain and aching, specifically when a person walks up stairs or hills.
A bursa is a sac filled with fluid located over a bony prominence to prevent friction. If a bursa in the knee becomes irritated and swollen from overuse or continuous friction, it can turn into a condition called bursitis. Symptoms of bursitis in the knee include warmth, inflammation, swelling, and pain on the front of the kneecap.
Osgood-Schlatter disease is a painful condition caused by recurring stress on the front end of the tibia where the patellar tendon links to the bone. Most common in professional athletes 10 to 15 years of ages, its symptoms include a bump listed below the knee joint that’s painful to the touch and painful with activity. Pain is alleviated with rest.
The majority of knee tests involve resting flat on a table while the doctor manipulates the knee to see how steady it is and if any part of the joint hyperextends or dislocates.
Imaging tests (like an MRI, X-ray, or CAT scan) likewise may be done to verify a knee injury and determine its severity.
Any child with a knee injury need to rest the knee as much as possible.
Instantly after the injury, use ice to the area for 20-minute intervals to lower swelling and use compression bandages for comfort. A child can normally bear weight as tolerated, and should elevate the leg (above the heart) on pillows or other soft challenge lower pain and swelling.
Doctors call this approach of treatment RICE:
The doctor might prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatory pills or liquid if your child has severe inflammation and pain.
After initial treatment, some kids might wear a knee immobilizer (a brace or a sleeve that’s wrapped around the knee to keep it from moving too much) for a few weeks while the knee heals, and might need to use crutches to obtain around.
More serious knee injuries can require surgery to rebuild the knee if the child has actually torn ligaments or tendons or bone fractures.
During arthroscopy (a minimally invasive surgical strategy) surgeons make a little opening in the knee and place an arthroscope, a small tube-like tool, into the joint. The arthroscope has a lighted video camera on completion that is wired to a TV screen to offer the surgeon an amplified view while running.
The majority of the time, the doctor is able to fix the issue during an arthroscopy. But if the injury is too complex, the cosmetic surgeon will have to switch to “open” surgery, which needs a bigger incision to see the area with the naked eye.
No matter whether a child has arthroscopy or a standard open surgery for a knee injury, the recovery period will be a number of weeks to a few months.
The majority of kids who recuperate from a knee injury will require some sort of rehabilitation (” rehab”) therapy to help recover the knee and to:
- bring back series of motion
- regain strength in the knee, thigh, and shin muscles to avoid atrophy (the breakdown of muscle tissue).
- reduce pain and swelling.
- improve balance.
- gain back practical efficiency for activity.
The majority of kids go through rehabilitation at a center three times a week, with everyday exercises they practice at home. Faster rehabilitation programs involve more frequent therapy, but will not necessarily speed up recovery.
While the majority of sports are off limits– specifically the one that triggered the injury in the first location– kids can do some low-impact activities that may be enjoyable and even therapeutic, like swimming, bike riding, or safeguarded running. Talk to your doctor about which of these may benefit your child when regular activities can be resumed.
Preventing Knee Injuries
Preventing knee injuries is a lot less painful and a lot less inconvenience than undergoing surgery.
If your kids play sports, make sure they constantly use suitable protective equipment during practices and competitors. Kneepads and shin guards when proper (in addition to helmets and other protective equipment) will assist avoid injury. Also be sure that they use supportive shoes that remain in excellent condition and proper for the sport.
More pointers for preventing sports injuries:
- During workouts, constantly ensure kids heat up and cool down.
- Motivate kids to do regular strength training to support muscles, and stretching or yoga to improve versatility.
- Practice your sport on the training surfaces that aren’t too hard. Running and jumping on asphalt can be tough on the knees.
- When leaping, make sure your child bends the knees while landing. This takes pressure off the ACL and avoids injury.
- If kids cut laterally or pivot often (as in soccer), motivate them to crouch and bend at the knees and hips to reduce the chance of an ACL injury.
- For kids who play simply one sport, conditioning and training year-round– even if it’s at a lower intensity than during the competitive season– can assist them remain in shape and reduce the possibilities of injury.
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