We're adolescent knee injury specialists

Children and young people are just as susceptible to the knee injuries that affect us all. But some conditions only occur during adolescence. If you’re worried about your child’s knee pain, talk to our knee specialists now.

Knee pain in childhood or adolescence is relatively common. It can vary from simple knee sprains (seen in all athletes) to major knee injuries. You can find information about these on our other sports injury pages.

Up to 40% of children will experience at least one bout of ‘growing pains’ by the age of 12. Usually these are not something to worry about, but there are some signs that should cause concern. You can find more about those here.

Some conditions associated with sporting activities are particularly common in adolescence. These may be due to simple muscle imbalance during the rapid growth phases (11-14yrs – girls, 12-15yrs – boys) and usually settle with physiotherapy rehabilitation.

​Osgood-Schlatter Disease

This common condition affects mostly sporty adolescents during the ‘growth spurt’ years. It occurs over the bony prominence at the front just below the knee and feels worse with activities.

Rest helps settle the symptoms but continuing with sporting activities does not appear to cause more problems other than possibly prolonging the symptoms. It usually settles over a period of 1-2 years. Similar pain at the lower tip of the knee cap (Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease) follows the same course.

Knee Cap Pain

Problems with pain or tracking of the knee cap are extremely common, particularly in adolescent girls. Occasionally the problems with ‘tracking’ are so bad that the knee cap dislocates.

Yorkshire Knee Clinic’s consultants will typically recommend rest and immobilisation, followed by physiotherapy to solve the problem. If pain persists or reoccurs, your knee consultant may recommend surgical treatment.

​Joint Surface Problems (OCD)

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) is an uncommon condition that affects the joint surface of the knee. It is thought to be due to a temporary problem with the blood supply to a part of the bone, leading to separation of a portion of bone and joint surface. Often these heal by themselves but occasionally they can completely loosen and break off within the knee.

OCD causes pain and swelling at first but both can settle, which can make diagnosis difficult. Sometimes our knee specialists can identify the condition on an x-ray but usually MRI is required. We usually recommend rest and protection of the joint surface as the initial treatment. We prefer to reserve surgery for those instances which fail to settle, are more advanced, or if a fragment loosens or locks the knee.

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If you are worried about your child’s knee pain, we can help. 

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