Anterior Knee Pain in Adolescents

Chronic pain occurring in the front and center of the knee can be common among active, healthy young female adolescents. While the condition can affect young boys, it is more prominent in girls. The cause for the pain in the anterior portion of the knee may not be known, but the complex anatomy of the knee joint makes it more sensitive and susceptible to activity, training, and overuse.

Pressure may have a tendency to pull the kneecap sideways due to overuse or activity, attributing to the pain just behind the kneecap. In adolescents a number of factors may be involved.

· Imbalance of thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) that support the knee joint

· Overdoing sports activities

· Poor flexibility

· Problems with alignment of the legs between the hips and the ankles

· Using improper sports training techniques or equipment

Symptoms in Adolescents

Most adolescents report that the pain in the anterior portion of the knee is gradual, but over time can occur at all hours of the day or night. If you suffer from this condition you may experience these common symptoms:

· Popping or crackling sounds in the knee when you climb stairs or stand up and walk after prolonged sitting.

· Pain at night.

· Pain during activities that repeatedly bend the knee (i.e., jumping, squatting, running, and other exercise, especially involving weight-lifting).

· Pain that causes your knees to give way (buckle), although this is uncommon

· Pain related to a change in activity level or intensity, playing surface, or equipment.

If the pain persists and limits regular daily activities, the thigh muscle may weaken due to lack of use. If the knee pain is lasting, it is important to see your doctor right away to diagnose the cause of the pain and administer treatment.

Treatment and Prevention of Knee Pain

If the pain is mild, but not severe enough to seek medical treatment, you may follow steps for conservative at-home care. Ice, rest, and simple exercises are often helpful for adolescents with pain just behind the kneecap. If the pain persists, a visit to the doctor may be required. Your doctor may offer non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to assist with the painful episodes.

If the pain goes away through conservative treatment at home, but you have concerns about it returning, you may be able to prevent recurrences by following these steps:

· Limit the total number of miles you run in training and competition.

· Stop or reduce any activity that used to hurt your knees.

· Wear shoes appropriate to your activities.

· Warm up with stretching exercises before physical activity.

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