What are Common Adolescent / Children Leg Injuries?

Article by John Miller

leg pain

Why are Children's Injuries Different to Adults?

Adolescent injuries differ from adult injuries mainly because the bones are still growing. The growth plates (physis) are cartilaginous (strong connective tissue) areas of the bones from which the bones elongate or enlarge. Repetitive stress or sudden large forces can cause injury to these areas. 

Common Adolescent Leg Injuries

In the adolescent leg, common injuries include:

Osgood-Schlatter's Disease

Pain at the bump just below the knee cap (tibia tubercle). Overuse injuries commonly occur here. The tibia tubercle is the anchor point of your powerful quadriceps (thigh) muscles. It is the because of excessive participation in running and jumping sports that the tendon actually pulls bone off and forms a painful lump that will remain forever more. This type of injury responds to reduced activity and physiotherapy.

More info: Osgood Schlatter's Disease

Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Disease

Pain at the lower pole of the knee cap (patella). Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease is caused by overuse. It is the because of excessive participation in running and jumping sports that the tendon actually pulls bone off the knee cap. This type of injury responds to reduced activity and physiotherapy. and is treated with rest.

More info: Sinding Larsen Johansson Syndrome

Anterior Knee Pain

Anterior knee pain or patella femoral syndrome is often passed off as growing pains. Cause of this pain includes overuse, muscle imbalance, poor flexibility, poor alignment, or more commonly, a combination of these. Anterior knee pain is one of the most difficult adolescent knee injuries to sort out and treat. Accurate diagnosis and treatment success depends on finding a physiotherapist with a special interest and expertise in this problem.

More info: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Knee Ligaments

Cartilage between the leg bones have greater blood supply and are more elastic in adolescents than in adults. As adolescents near the end of bone growth, their injuries become more adult-like, hence more meniscal and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries are likely. MCL (medial collateral ligament) injuries result from a lateral blow to the knee. Pain is felt on inner side (medially) of the knee. MCL injuries responds well to protective bracing and conservative treatment.

More info: Knee Ligament Injuries

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries

This injury is usually caused by hyperextension of the ligament. Non-contact injuries of the ACL are becoming more common than contact injuries of the ACL. Adolescent females are at high risk. Combination injuries with MCL or menisci are common. Surgical reconstruction is needed if the adolescent wishes to continue participating in "stop-and-start" sports.

More info: ACL Injury

Meniscal injuries

An injury to the meniscus, crescent-shaped cartilage between the thigh bone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia). These injuries usually result from twisting. Swelling, catching, and locking of the knee are common. If physiotherapy treatment does not resolve these types of injuries within six weeks, they will usually require arthroscopic surgery.

More info: Meniscus Tear

Sever's Disease

Heel pain is common in the young adolescent due to the stresses of their achilles tendon pulling upon its bony insertion point on the heel (calcaneum). It is a common overuse injury as a result from excessive volume of training and competition, particularly when loads are increased dramatically in a short period of time. it is also caused because of diminished flexibility and muscle-tendon strength mis-matching. Physiotherapy, reduced activity, taping and orthotics are some of the best ways to manage this debilitating condition for the active young athlete.

More info: Severs Disease

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprain is probably the most common injury seen in sports. Ankles sprains involve stretching of the ligaments and usually occur when the foot twists inward. Treatment includes active rest, ice, compression and physiotherapy rehabilitation. An ankle sprain usually improves in 2-6 weeks with the correct treatment.

More info: Sprained Ankle

Patellar Instability

Patellar (kneecap) instability can range from partial dislocation (subluxation) to dislocation with fracture. Partial dislocation can often be treated conservatively. Dislocation with or without fracture is a much more serious injury and usually will require surgery.

More info: Patella Dislocation

Osteochondritis Dissecans

Separation of a piece of bone from its bed in the knee joint. This injury is usually due to one major macro event with repetitive macro trauma that prevents complete healing. This injury is potentially very serious. Treatment varies from rest to surgery.

Growth Plate Fractures

Breaking of the growth plates. A fracture through the growth plate can be a very serious injury that can stop the bone from growing properly. These fractures should be treated by an Orthopaedic Surgeon, as some will require surgery.

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Most Common Adolescent/Children Injuries

  • Achilles Tendonitis / Tendinitis
  • Anterior Ankle Impingement
  • Avascular Necrosis of the Femoral Head
  • Bursitis Knee
  • Compartment Syndrome
  • Cramps
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
  • Fat Pad Syndrome
  • Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)
  • Gluteal Tendinopathy
  • Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome
  • High Ankle Sprain
  • Hip Labral Tear
  • Hip Replacement
  • Knee Arthritis
  • Morton's Neuroma
  • Neck Arm Pain
  • Peroneal Tendonitis
  • Pes Anserinus Bursitis & Tendinitis
  • Pes Planus - Flat Feet
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Plica Syndrome
  • Posterior Ankle Impingement
  • Posterolateral Corner Injury
  • Retrocalcaneal Bursitis
  • Severs Disease
  • Spondylolysis (Back Stress Fracture)
  • Sprained Ankle
  • Stress Fracture Feet
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Wry Neck
  • Call PhysioWorks Book Online


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    Last updated 23-Oct-2014 06:24 PM

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