Common Knee Problems in Children

Noyes Knee Institute Signature

Published On

Jul 13, 2018


Patient Education

Most children go through growing pains at some point in their lives. Often, growing pains result in discomfort and pain located in the thighs, hips, and behind the knees. Typically, growing pains are not bone or joint-related, and so these pains are considered a normal part of growing up. Doctors typically attribute growing pains to a child’s excessive use of their growing muscles, and the condition fades over time.

However, some children encounter other types of knee problems that do require medical attention. This guide lists a few common knee problems that present in children. Refer to a knee specialist for any swelling, immobility, or extreme pain your child feels in or around their knees.


An infection in your child’s knee is very serious. An infection can be in their joints, in the muscles surrounding the knee, or in the bone itself. Children have still-growing immune systems, which means it’s harder for their bodies to fight off infection. The most common cause of a deep infection in a child’s knee is exposure to staph.

Children with knee pain that may actually be an infection will typically become ill and immobile as the infection spreads. See your child’s doctor right away if your child is vomiting, lethargic, has a high fever, or is unable to walk or move their legs. The infection can spread to other areas of the body, such as the wrists as well.

A deep infection of the knee may present itself as redness or swelling around the affected area or may show no outward symptoms at all.

Juvenile Arthritis

Arthritis can afflict any person at any age. Children can get juvenile arthritis, which often affects the joints, particularly around the knees and other often-moved joints.

Children showing symptoms of juvenile arthritis may complain of leg or knee pain and often limp or walk stiff-legged, especially when they first wake up. Your child may also experience irritability, weight loss, fever, body rashes, extreme fatigue, and other symptoms.

Your knee and joint specialist will explain the various forms of juvenile arthritis to you. Since arthritis is caused by a variety of factors, including genetics and even infection, taking your child to a knee specialist for diagnosis is key to their overall health and recovery. Your doctor will treat the condition with physical therapy and medications to reduce symptoms.

Osgood Schlatter Disease

As children grow, they learn to use their ever-changing bodies in new ways. Sometimes too much movement (especially for children who are involved in impact sports like football, gymnastics, or other activities) can result in a condition known as Osgood Schlatter Disease.

The disease is caused by over-use of the patellar tendon and can result in painful inflammation both behind, in front, and all around the knee. As the tendon is repeatedly pulled, it becomes stiffened, resulting in lack of mobility and pain.

The condition is most common in children as they approach puberty (between the ages of 10 and 15). Treatment typically includes rest and medications. Depending on the severity of your child’s knee pain, your knee specialist may recommend removing your child from sports activities or refer you to a physical therapist until the patellar tendon has healed properly.

Other conditions can cause knee pain in children as well. Do not ignore your child if they complain of knee tenderness, burning, numbness, or other unusual symptoms. Seek emergency care if your child has a high fever, is vomiting or experiencing prolonged nausea, or if they have a spreading rash on their body in addition to their knee pain.

Our specialists at Noyes Knee Institute will diagnose and treat your child’s knee problem today. Give us a call today to learn more.