Sore Knees? It Could Be 'Growing Pains'

Filed under: Tweens, Teens, Medical Conditions, Development/Milestones: Babies

Dear Reggie,
My 13-year-old son Jeffery is extremely active in sports such as basketball, soccer and tennis. Recently, he has been complaining of pain in his knees just under his kneecaps. As soon as he starts to play any sport, his knees hurt and the pain continues even when he is finished. He is able to manage the pain at this point. A friend mentioned that he might be experiencing growing pains, as her son's friend was diagnosed with a knee disease common in adolescents. I want to make sure this does not become a bigger problem and that Jeffrey is not injuring himself. Can you send me your thoughts on my son's situation?
Thank you,
Mrs. Simmons

Hello Mrs. Simmons,
My first suggestion is that you have your son visit his medical doctor to get an official diagnosis. This will allow you to decide a course of action. In general, pain during activity is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong and needs to be attended to. The sooner it is addressed, the better. It may be something as simple as having Jeffrey take a couple of days off to rest...


Common Growing Pains

There is a disease "of the knees" called Osgood-Sclatter Disease. It is common in active kids who experience rapid growth spurts between the ages of 10 and 15. There is a bony protrusion at the top of your shin bone just below the knee cap. In this disease, the tendon that attaches from the kneecap to the shin (patellar tendon) pulls away at the bone and causes inflammation and extra bone growth. In most cases, the bump protrudes out and is painful to touch. Every case is unique. Some kids continue to play while others have to take a break.

Respect the Pain

Many parents chalk up some pain as growing pain and simply assume it will eventually go away on its own. There is some truth to this way of thinking as Osgood-Schlatter Disease tends to subside when the child stops growing. However, if Jeffrey wants to continue playing at a high level, he should respect the pain. What I mean is it is important to treat the symptoms. For example, treat the pain and swelling with ice for 15-20 minutes every three to four hours. Elevate his legs while he sleeps to help reduce the swelling. As Jeffrey participates in high intensity sports that involve a lot of running, jumping and lunging, he may need to periodically rest his knees for a couple of days at a time.

Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids, a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels. Have a question about your child's health and fitness? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.