Treating Knee Injuries in Kids
How to know when to see a specialist.
If your child plays any recreational sport or does physical activity there is a chance he or she will end up with knee pain. Adolescent knee pain accounts for 2.5 million emergency room visits each year with approximately 40 percent of patients being discharged with a diagnosis of a sprain or strain.
According to Aaron Hewitt, physician assistant with OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine, the major questions a parent usually asks is when does the situation need attention at an emergency department or need to be seen by a specialist? And when do you simply observe and wait for a few days? Hewitt offers this advice.
- Emergency care. Seek immediate care if the injury is significant — such as falling from a tree or ladder — with intolerable pain; if fever, chills, feelings of illness or any combination of those accompany the injury; or if there is deformity of the joint.
- See an orthopedist or specialist. If after 24 hours the knee is swollen to the size of a cantaloupe, or if within a few days there are feelings of instability, or if the child has difficulty with weight bearing or decreased range of motion, consult a specialist.
- Wait and watch. If the injury is mild in nature and not inhibiting daily activities, or has a gradual onset without trauma wait and watch for two weeks. It is also OK to wait and observe if the issue is frontal knee pain for children ages 10-14 that does not have trauma or swelling, which can be due to skeletal growth or muscle development.