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Knee pain in growing adolescents

Written by physiotherapist, Alex Walsh

Many children and adolescents may experience pain in their knees as they develop. During normal growth, the body is rapidly changing at different rates and this can make the growing body more susceptible to some injuries.

What causes knee pain?

Growth changes through the pelvis and legs can alter the forces that go through the knee joint during walking, running or playing sport. This also affects the muscles around the knee which may become overloaded and can result in an imbalance around the joint. In some cases, this can result in an ache type pain at the front of the knee when squatting, sitting for extended periods, jumping or running.

There are a number of ways these changes can lead to pain. For example, it can alter the position of the knee cap causing it to rub against the femur bone, or increase tension through the tendons that attach to the bone. The mechanism will vary from person to person. A Physiotherapist will be able to assess movement patterns and identify the cause of the pain.

How is knee pain managed?

The main approach to managing this kind of knee pain is to reduce the amount of sport or activity. There is no need to stop activity entirely, but making sure that the body gets a break in between. Additionally, making sure to warm-up and cool-down before and after activity, and using ice on the joint afterwards may help to manage pain.

In many cases, knee pain will resolve on its own over time, however Physiotherapy can be helpful to speed up recovery and get back to full activity. A Physiotherapist will identify and address any weakness or tight muscles to correct abnormal biomechanics around the hip, knee and ankle joints that can all contribute to knee pain. Physiotherapy management usually consists of strengthening, massage and stretching, as well as taping techniques that help to relieve pain. In some cases, it may also be beneficial to have a podiatry assessment for orthotics aimed at correcting foot position to offload the knee.

This information is general in nature and should only be used as a guide. If you are concerned about knee pain make sure you call 9570 1277 to make an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists.