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Children & Knee Injuries: Causes, Treatments, and Tips to Prevent Them

BLD012493According to the website Kidshealth.org, thousands of kids sprain, fracture, or dislocate a knee every year. The cause of a knee injury can be anything from typical kid’s play to sports related and can be as mild as a sprain that needs rest and a short heal time, to a more serious injury that requires surgery and a longer time to heal.

 

There are 9 main types of injuries:

SPRAIN

A tear of one or more of the knee’s ligaments

STRAIN

A partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon

TENDONITIS

An inflamed or irritated tendon, often caused by overuse or poor training

MENISCAL CARTILAGE TEARS

A very common sports injury usually due to sudden changes in speed or side-to-side movements

FRACTURES and DISLOCATIONS

A cracked or broken bone; displacement of one or more bones at a joint

ARTICULAR CARTILAGE INJURIES

A small piece of bone or articular cartilage softens and/or breaks off from the end of a bone and causes long term pain

CHONDROMALACIA PATELLAE

The cartilage in the patella (kneecap) softens because of injury, muscle weakness, or overuse, and the patella and the thighbone rub together.

BURSITIS

The bursa (sac filled with fluid to prevent friction) in the knee becomes inflamed and swollen from overuse or constant friction

OSGOOD-SCHLATTER DISEASE

A painful disorder caused by repetitive stress on the front end of the tibia where the patellar tendon connects to the bone.

Prevention

The article suggests a number of ways to prevent such injuries, including strength training and yoga, warming up and cooling down before and after exercise, good form when jumping and pivoting, and possibly doing some kind of training year round for kids who only play one sport a year. But no matter how careful, injuries do happen. If your child injures a knee, what can you expect as far as diagnosis and treatment go?

Treatment

First, the doctor will do a hands-on examination, during which he/she will manipulate the joint to see how stable it is and to see if it hyperextends or dislocates. After that, if needed, an MRI, CAT, or x-ray may be needed to determine the severity of the injury. Once the nature and severity of the injury has been determined, there are a few things the doctor may recommend:

  1. RICE:
    • Rest
    • Ice every 20 minutes
    • Compression bandages to help keep swelling down
    • Elevation above heart level
  2. An anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen for pain and swelling, if needed
  3. Immobilization; a brace, sleeve, or cast meant to keep the knee from moving around while healing

In more serious cases, surgery may be needed to repair bones, tendons, or ligaments. Most of the time this can be done through a minimally invasive procedure known as arthroscopy, but may require an “open” surgery if the injury is more complex than can be handled arthroscopically.

Lastly, the child will need some sort of rehab to regain full range of motion, strength, and flexibility in the knee. The length of time required in rehab will vary depending on the type of injury and frequency of the rehab sessions. Some sports activities might even be okay during the rehab period, so if your child is going stir-crazy due to not being able to run and jump and play, check with your doctor to see if swimming or biking might be an option.

Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff Writer

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