Knee Problems in Teens

Archived Q&A and Reviews


S12 year old's knee pain

July 2015

My 12 yo daughter has been complaining of pain when she bends her knees for several months now. It seems like it is probably tendinitis from dancing. She tried physical therapy for several months but she says it doesn't help.

At this point I don't know if I should encourage her to take a break from dancing, or try a different physical therapist ($$$), or just not worry about it? She only complains occasionally so the pain must not be severe? Maybe its just growing pains?

Has anyone else been through this? Any suggestions?


So sorry about your daughter's discomfort! Around the same time, my daughter (a soccer player) developed Osgood-Schlatter disease, which sounds scarier than it is, but it can be painful:

It almost always goes away on its own after the kid stops growing. Icing the knee helps ease the pain, and if you search the internet for osgood-schlatter stretches you'll find some that will help in the longer-term. aimee

There are Physical Therapists ('fake and bake, steam and cream', as we say), and there are Physical Therapists (who do skilled, specific, highly developed hands on manual manipulations and exercises). GOOD ones include Albany Physical Therapy (NOT 'Physical Therapy Innovations'), and Ellen at Arcus Physical Therapy in Albany of Kearny (Google the practice name ) is AMAZING. Also, Kaive at 'Goo Physical Therapy'' on 4th Street in Berkeley is very good. Leigh Halloweigh at Forefront Physical Therapy (510) 228-0703 on Dana Street is also highly skilled. Skilled Physical Therapy is what I would highly recommend as the next step. They can help way more in a few visits then the Steam and Cream artists do in months. Physical Therapist

I developed knee issues as an adult, so unfortunately I can relate to your daughter's knee pain. Either for a child or adult, the first thing is to see an orthopedic doctor to diagnose the issue. Therapists may be able to figure out that as well, but they are not trained to do so. If your daughter is covered by a health plan, it shouldn't be too expensive to go to a doctor visit (many need to get a referral to an orthopedic specialist from her general doctor first depending on a plan), and then if the doctor thinks it's necessary then do an MRI. knees shouldn't hurt...

It sounds just like Osgood-Schlatter disease, a non-serious problem (despite the name) that causes pain in kids who do a lot of jumping in their activities. My daughter had this at about 11 when she did Irish dance.

Surgery for daughter's torn ACL

Feb 2015

My daughter needs to have surgery on her torn ACL. Does anyone have recent experience with a surgeon at Kaiser for this? Has anyone had experience at the new San Leandro hospital? angie

My 19 year old daughter severed her ACL while playing soccer, and her Kaiser surgeon was the one who does most of the ACL surgeries for other UC athletes, so we were confident he had lots of experience with these kinds of surgeries with teen-young adults. I can't remember his name, but there's probably only one Kaiser surgeon who meets this description. I will also say that both of us really enjoyed the visit with the NP, a young woman who had had ACL transplant surgery some years ago and completely connected with my daughter.

The surgery was at the Kaiser Richmond facility, which was quite new and impressive when we had our surgery there three years ago.

Good luck with the surgery and recovery. My daughter still hasn't recovered as had been expected from her surgery, despite being diligent in her PT. I guess that's a reminder that there are no guarantees that the ''usual'' recovery scenario works for everyone, even young and healthy and physically active people who do their PT.

Mother who's been there

13-year-old's misaligned patella

Nov 2008

My 13 year old daughter has developed a misaligned patella and is in a lot of pain. Apparently it is a condition that happens to adolescent girls when their bones grow faster than their knee cartilage can keep up. The doctors have her on crutches for over a month and she is doing Physical Therapy. She is bummed out about it and trying to keep her spirits up and keep up with school. Are there any families out there who have been through this? Any advice how to handle it? Any girls she can connect with who have been through this? Jeanne

Unfortunately I cannot supply a peer for her to connect with. In this case I would suggest Facebook, reading, knitting, movies and other non active things to do. This is not all that uncommon.

My daughter had it, and was diagnosed during Summer Camp. I had to provide specific notes and hover over all the camp counselors to honor the doctor's recommendations regarding rest and avoiding strenuous hikes. They thought she was slacking.

We were able to get her through middle school, high school, ballet and soccer simply by having her rest whenever she felt pain. She did not need crutches, but it did curtail running. She is fine now. If you can get the inflammation down and not irritate it, usually people grow out of it. We used a lot of cold packs, alternated heat and cold. Ask about physical therapy. Especially when you walk to avoid irritating one joint you can throw off others. Follow the doctors instructions long past symptoms to give everything its due time to catch up, heal and be strong. mom

Knee Problems with a 14 Year Old

Jan 2006

My son has developed painful knees. Both knees under the knee cap have protrusions and he is now having difficulty walking. Almost always he experiences pain. Of course he carries a heavy backpack, walks up and down hills and plays basketball. I'm planning to see his doctor but wanted to know if this is a common problem among teens and what you do about it? Chuck

You may get several responses to your note, as you've described a classic growth-related problem that many kids have had.

My 14 year-old son has the same symptoms as yours, and was diagnosed last spring with (don't worry!) Osgood-Schlatter disease, a growth related knee problem that has to do with the bones and tendons growing at different rates -- in the most severe cases the tendons can actually pull pieces of bone off the front of the shin right below the knee -- but its likely that your son and mine will find (as my 17 year-old daughter already has) that the condition subsides once they stop growing so fast.

Do see your doctor, to be sure nothing else is going on, but its quite likely this is not something to panic about. My kids were told not to limit their activity (both play sports) but to take care of their knees --- ice and Ibuprofen after strenuous work-outs, stopping if there is more than usual pain, etc. My daughter couldn't jog for awhile. My favorite (and the only) limitation for my son was that he is not to kneel. Fortunately he is rarely called on to do so these days. I'm less worried this time around, because my daughter has no residual pain or swelling. Heather

One more thing to add. If the knee problem is a medical condition and needs rest or moderated activity - going to the doctor gives you the chance to have a note written by the doctor. My daughter was diagnosed with Osgood- Schlatter Disease at 12 and is almost grown out of it now - no real problem for the last few years. However it is pretty clear from the literature that if pain persists the child should not be told to ''work through it.'' My daughter has been in dance most of these years, and active in various sports at school and after school. Sometimes activities at school required long walks or visits to museums where the students could not sit down for long periods. This would aggravate her knee and she would be scolded for sitting. By having the doctor's note on file and continually ''reminding'' the teachers or extra- curricular instructors we could head off some of these responses and get her support to take a break or be excused if her knees had a flare up. She only required ibuporfen occasionally, and with slight moderation of activity=basically not overdoing it - she has not been restricted or had any lasting problems. Get it checked out.

Seeking knee specialist for 12-year-old

Feb 2003

We are looking for an orthopaedist to perform surgery on our twelve year old daughter's knee (discoid meniscus). Has anyone had experiences with someone that they would highly recommend? Thanks, Susan

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