The knee is a joint that joins the thigh bone (femur) to the top of the shin bone (tibia). It is made up of bones, , muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These parts work together to make the legs bend, straighten, and swivel. A knee injury can damage one or more parts of the knee.
What Causes Knee Injuries?
Kids and teens may injure a knee in a fall or accident. Active and athletic kids might have overuse knee injuries. These happen when someone trains too much or makes repetitive motions involving the knee.
Osteochondritis dissecans: when a small piece of bone in the knee loses blood supply and breaks off
bursitis: swelling of one of the fluid filled sacs that cushion the knee.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Knee Injury?
The signs and symptoms of a knee injury depend on the cause. Most knee injuries cause pain. A knee injury may also lead to the knee feeling weak, "giving way," or "locking." Someone with a knee injury might not be able to fully bend or straighten the knee. The injured knee may be swollen or bruised.
How Are Knee Injuries Diagnosed?
To diagnose a knee injury, health care providers ask about how the injury happened and what symptoms it causes.
The health care provider will do a physical exam that includes pressing on the knee and legs and moving them in certain ways. These tests can show what part of the knee is injured.
Make sure your kids wear the recommended protective equipment for sports (such as knee pads and shin guards).
Make sure your kids wear supportive athletic shoes that are in good condition.
During workouts, kids should always warm up and cool down.
Encourage kids to do regular strength training to support muscles, and stretching or yoga to improve flexibility.
When jumping, kids should bend the knees while landing. This takes pressure off the ACL and prevents injury.
If kids cut laterally or pivot frequently (as in soccer), encourage them to crouch and bend at the knees and hips to reduce the chances of an ACL injury.
For kids who play just one sport, conditioning and training year-round — even if it's at a lower intensity than during the competitive season — can help them stay in shape and make an injury less likely.
What Else Should I Know?
If your child's knee hurts, it is important to know why. Take your child to a health care provider to find out what's causing the pain and to get treatment.