During adolescence, the body goes through frequent growth spurts, which can place additional
pressure on weight-bearing joints, such as the knee. As children experience growth spurts,
they will often notice pain around the knee joints, often referred to as "growing pains".
One of the most common causes of knee pain in children and adolescents is Osgood-Schlatter
disease, an overuse condition frequently found in children who participate in sports.
Causes Of Adolescent Knee Pain
Osgood-Schlatter disease is the result of repeated joint use during periods of growth. During
growth spurts, weight-bearing joints are under additional stress, causing the cartilage
surrounding the ends of the bones to inflame. Combined with repeated joint use, inflammation
will often develop in the patella tendon as well. The patella tendon connects the kneecap to
the shinbone, and the development of inflammation will often cause it to pull away from the
shinbone, creating a small tender lump on the knee.
Adolescents who participate in sports, such as soccer, basketball, and gymnastics, are more
likely to develop this condition, due to frequent joint use. The condition usually develops
in children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old; however, girls often develop the
condition earlier than boys. The condition will typically first appear during a period of
bone growth in which the child is very active in athletics.
Symptoms Of Osgood-Schlatter Disease
As the condition develops, adolescents will notice a bony lump developing just below the
kneecap. The lump and surrounding area will often be tender to the touch, painful, and
swell. The muscles in the thigh will often tighten, and the affected joint will often feel
unstable. Symptoms will typically worsen during periods of activity, such as running, and
will lessen during periods of rest.
Osgood-Schlatter disease typically only affects one knee joint, but may sometimes develop in
both joints. The severity of symptoms ranges from slightly noticeable pain to constant
intense pain, and is often associated with activity level; however, the extent of symptoms
will vary from patient to patient. Symptoms will often reoccur until the patient finishes
growing, which may be a few months or a few years, often reappearing during periods of
Through an in-depth examination process, Dr. Haar will assess the symptoms and severity of
each patient's unique case, and recommend the best approach for treatment.
Adolescent Knee Pain Treatment Options
Symptoms will typically dissipate when the patient has finished growing, but until growth is
complete, there are several conservative treatment options that will help patients manage
pain symptoms. It is important to avoid any activities, such as running, that may irritate
the joint further.
At the first signs of knee pain and/or swelling, it is important to rest and apply ice to the
affected knee. Over the counter pain relieves, such as ibuprofen, will often help to relieve
pain symptoms. Physical therapy can help return joint stability, reduce tension in the thigh
muscles, and strengthen the joint.
Adolescent Knee Pain In New York, New York
Dr. Haar is one of New York's most experienced orthopaedic physicians, specializing in custom
treatment plans for patients of all ages suffering from joint pain. Dr. Haar is nationally
recognized for his expertise in the use of physical therapy for the treatment of knee pain.
To schedule an appointment, contact his New York City office at (212)