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Knee Pain in Teenage Athletes

Sports are a fantastic way of keeping our kids active, strong, and having fun. But what happens when that nagging ache continues to persist and your teen starts to complain of knee pain? You might ask yourself: Is this a normal part of youth sports? Will it go away with time? Should we rest it and if so, for how long? Do we pull our children out? When do I see a physiotherapist?

Whether your child is a recreational or high-level athlete, these are all questions that can come to mind when pain occurs, adding to the maze of the ultimate question, what is going on and how do we make this better. Knee pain can be common with running or jumping sports like soccer and basketball, but also with leg heavy activities like skiing and biking. Because of growth changes in the adolescent years, teens can encounter injury when starting new sports, starting a new season after summer break, increasing the frequency and intensity of practices, or learning new skills. Common conditions in the knee for youths can include patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee), Osgood Schlatter’s disease, and patellofemoral pain syndrome. These injuries are typically associated with repetitive stress but respond well to a treatment program with carefully selected exercises that target the weak areas contributing to pain. As a general rule of thumb: if pain lasts for more than 2 days on a localized area of the body, especially if it is giving hard to ignore pain, on only one side of the body, affecting your child’s performance, or affecting your child’s day to day, it is time to see a physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist will work together with you and your teen to create a treatment plan for symptom relief, targeted exercises, and safe return to play guidelines, giving you peace of mind going forward.

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