Most Common Causes of Knee Pain in Young Athletes

Oct 29, 2020

Written by Brian Cheah, PT, DPT

Young athletes have many reasons to try and play through the pain of an injury. Maybe they're in a championship game or they don't want to lose their chances of a college scholarship. Whatever the reason, injuries in young athletes should not be ignored, because of the potential long term damage it can cause. In this blog, we'll talk about knee pain specifically in young athletes and what you can do about it.

Knee Pain, also known as, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.

What Is It and Does my Child have it?

It refers to a non-specific, vague, mostly activity related front knee pain. There are many factors that can contribute to the pain. Your child may report pain “behind the knee cap” and will complain of activities that require lots of knee bending: squatting, jumping, and lunging. 

What Can Cause Knee Pain?

  • Intense physical activity is the leading cause to the development of front knee pain. 
  • Hip angle
  • Body mechanics during activity
  • Spinal position
  • Foot position
  • Flexibility 

Should my Child Stop Playing?

  • Complete rest and cessation of all activities are generally not necessary
  • Athletes can continue to play as tolerated, but should address the cause of pain
  • Athlete should avoid prolonged sitting, squatting, and climbing 


Beneficial Exercises and Activities 

    • Squat with Band

    • Step up with Hip Hinge

    • Quad Hydrant

  • Quadruped Fire Hydrant


Other Possible Causes of Knee Pain in Young Athletes 

  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease
  • Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome
  • Juvenile Osteochondritis Dissecans (JOCD)
  • Plica Syndrome
  • Iliotibial Band (ITB) Friction Syndrome
  • Quadriceps Tendonitis 
  • Popliteus Tendonitis 

 If you or someone you know suffers from knee pain don't wait to get it checked out! Give us a call or request an appointment here!


Brian Cheah is a Doctor of Physical Therapy. He first became interested in physical therapy because of his own rehab following a serious sports injury. Sports have always been an integral part of his life. Growing up, he loved playing basketball and football. Although his injury caused a setback to his sports career, he walked away from the experience with a new love for the human body and its ability to heal and grow. At Evergreen he specializes in working with sports, orthopedic, and pediatric patients.




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