Causes, treatment and prevention for knee pain in children


For parents with active children, you should know by now that's important to be ready for any injuries including knee pain.

You may find that children who participate often in sports and other physical activities make use of their knees more than you might think. For every action kids make such as jumping or running, their knees are vulnerable to accidents and pain. 

Even the smallest feeling of pain is worth giving attention to so make sure to treat any pain or swelling you might find on your child’s knee.

To know more about what knee pain your kid is experiencing, here are possible causes and treatments you could follow.;

Causes of knee pain

1. Bacterial infection

Symptoms: If your child is experiencing inflammation in or around the knee could mean pus formation in the knee joints which could be due to bacterial infection. This could be a serious case of swelling and enough pain to prevent your kid from walking.

When to consult a doctor: It is best to consult your doctor if your child experiences intense pain or swelling for more than a day.

2. Juvenile arthritis

Symptoms: Your child may have juvenile arthritis if their knee joints appear warm and reddened accompanied by swelling. For child athletes, they may experience juvenile arthritis in the front part of the knee. This condition can happen to kids from age 6 months old up to 16 years old. 

When to consult a doctor: If your child experiences any of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult a doctor. 

3. Osgood-Schlatter disease

Symptoms: This disease causes inflammation in your child’s knee around the area where the shin bone is attached to the knee cap. Osgood-Schlatter Disease commonly occurs in children who are beginning puberty or kid athletes. 

When to consult a doctor:

You may consult your doctor if the condition worsens but medicine and proper rest will help for your child’s recovery. 

4. Jumper’s knee

Symptoms: Jumper’s knee may be caused by excessive jumping or squatting which puts severe pressure on the patellar tendon. This can result in injuries to the tendon fibres and make your child’s knee swell up right below the knee cap. 

When to consult doctor: It is advised that your child takes a break from any sports or jumping activities. If the swelling and pain on their knee persist, you may consult a doctor. 

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5. Soft tissue knee injuries

Symptoms: Soft tissue knee injuries are also common in physically-active kids since it’s the result of excessive pressure on the knee muscles, ligaments and tendons. 

When to consult a doctor: If your kid’s knee condition worsens, you may consult your doctor. But soft tissue knee injuries may be treated with ice packs, bandage compression, elevation and rest. 

6. Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Symptoms: Also knows as runner’s knee, patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs when there is excessive weight pressure on the knee and may also be caused by knee displacement.

This usually happens among young teenagers and athletic kids. Your child may experience pain on their knee whenever they squat, jump or do any activity that requires them to bend their knee. 

When to consult doctor: You may use the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to treat your child’s knee but if the pain persists, it is advised to consult a doctor. 

7. Quadricep’s tendinitis

Symptoms: Common in young athletic teenagers, quadricep’s tendonitis is an injury or strain that affects the knee’s quadriceps muscles. Your child may experience swelling and pain in their lower thigh area that is just above the patella. 

When to consult a doctor: This may be treated with anti-inflammatory medicines but if symptoms persist, you may consult a doctor. 

8. Tumours

Symptoms: Tumours occur around the knee area may be the mildest form of knee pain your child will ever experience. Parents need to look out for any abnormal growth of tissues on their child’s knee. 

When to consult a doctor: Consult a doctor if symptoms persist and for further treatment of your child’s knee. 

Treatment for knee pain

If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms as mentioned, you may find that the RICE method is one of the most effective treatments for your child’s knee pain. Treating your child’s knee pain would be better done earlier before it gets worse so you may try various treatments to ease the pain and swelling. 

  • Refrain from letting your child put too much pressure on the knee and advice them to rest. According to NHS, it is best to put as little weight on their knee like standing for long lengths of time. 
  • Place ice on the area of pain. Leave the ice pack or other alternatives such as frozen peas wrapped in a towel on your child’s knee for up to 20 minutes in every two to three hours. 
  • Use a tight wrap or elastic sleeve to wrap around the swollen area. But make sure not to wrap it too tightly for this would only worsen its condition and cause more swelling. 
  • Elevating the knee is also part of the RICE method for it could help to lessen any weight on your child’s knee. You can use a soft pillow or cushion to elevate the knee. 
  • Massaging the knee area may also help in easing pain. But this is only if there is not much swelling. 

Home remedies for knee pain

1. Apple cider vinegar

The alkaline properties in apple cider vinegar may help in easing knee pain in kids. Give your child one or two glasses of warm water mixed in with half or one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to remove any toxins in the knee region. 

2. Cayenne pepper

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Cayenne pepper includes a natural pain relieve ingredient called Capsaicin. Mix a paste of cayenne pepper and olive oil, and apply it externally to your child’s knee pain area. You can also mix it with apple cider vinegar and apply the liquid to the injury to reduce the pain. 

3. Cold compress

Cold compress or frozen peas are the most common home remedy whenever there’s an injury. This is because the coldness constricts the blood vessels to reduce the flow of blood to the affected area thus helps in reducing any pain or swelling. 

4. Ginger extracts

PHOTO: Pexels

This natural herb contains anti-inflammatory compounds which help reduce swelling and provide pain relief. Massage your child’s knee pain area two to three times a day with ginger oil soothe the pain.

5. Herbal ingredients

There are other herbal ingredients that can help in relieving pain for your child’s knee pain such as Epsom salt, fenugreek and eucalyptus oil. 

6. Lemon

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Lemon can be used to reduce knee pain since its citric acid acts as a solvent for Uric acid crystals which is a primary cause of arthritis. You can wrap a cotton cloth with one or two slices of lemon and dip it into sesame oil before applying it to the knee pain area.

Leave it on the affected area for five to 10 minutes to reduce any pain. It is also beneficial to drink a warm glass of lemon water in the morning. 

7. Mustard oil

Mustard oil can help reduce any pain or inflammation on your child’s knee and also improve blood circulation in the affected area. Just massage the oil on your kid’s injured knee and it will surely help relieve pain. 

8. Turmeric

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Give your child a glass of hot water mixed in with ginger and turmeric to help reduce the pain on their knee. This is because turmeric contains Curcumin chemical that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

9. Willow bark

Willow bark is a common natural herb for knee pain treatment including inflammation and fever as well as arthritis. 

ALSO READ: Is your child experiencing these health symptoms? See the doctor immediately

Tips to prevent knee pain in kids

  • Make sure your child does proper warm-up exercises before doing any physical activities or sports. Hamstring stretch and Quadriceps stretch can help then finishing up with relaxing exercises. 
  • Provide your child with the proper sports shoes to support them during any physical activities. 
  • It is best to avoid any physical activity that requires too much knee bending like running upwards. This helps reduce any pressure on the knees which could lead to an injury. 
  • For overweight children, it may help to avoid any knee pain if they lose weight to reduce excessive pressure on their knees. 

This article was first published in theAsianparent.