It’s no wonder that children are so often associated with running, jumping, and being active. There’s just something about that youthful energy that demands to be put into motion. However, active children and adolescents are also at risk of knee injuries, such as jumper’s knee, and may need to see an orthopedic specialist as a result.
Jumper’s knee is a condition common to young people who engage in significant amounts of kicking, jumping and running in sports such as soccer, track and field, and all types of hockey. The repetitive movements can result in discomfort of the tendon that runs over the front of the kneecap, the patellar tendon, which connects the muscles in the thigh to the muscles in the shin. Further damage to the bone growth area of the kneecap occurs in some cases, usually during growth spurts. While the condition is uncomfortable, it is rarely serious. Causes include excessive squatting or running. In some cases, minor issues with bodily conformation–such as flat-footedness or knees which are too closely aligned–can exacerbate or predispose a child to jumper’s knee.
Diagnosis is reasonably straightforward, as the activities that engage the patellar tendon cause the most discomfort, occasionally accompanied by swelling. A simple exam is usually enough–when combined with a thorough patient history–to make an accurate diagnosis. Some further diagnostic testing may be done, with an X-ray or MRI scan, to discern whether there are any complicating or unusual features to the disorder.
While both surgical and non-surgical treatments are available for jumper’s knee, a knowledgeable orthopedic surgeon will likely steer patients to non-surgical treatments first, to avoid any associated risks of performing surgery on a young person unnecessarily. For some, simply abstaining from activity for a few weeks may provide the respite the tendon requires to recover. Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to assuage any pain associated with jumper’s knee. However, the best treatment is time. Cortisone injections are not associated with any long or short term improvements, and are rarely performed in this situation. In the rare cases where surgery is necessary, the surgeon will remove the damaged portion of the tendon. Regardless of the route of treatment, physical therapy is helpful, as are icing, heat, and ultrasound treatments.
Any time a child is given a diagnosis, it is a concern. Thankfully, with skilled professionals like those at the Advanced Orthopedic Sports Medicine Institute, diagnosis, treatment, and a quick return to healthy activity are generally expected. To schedule a consultation, visit our website today!