Overuse injuries of the knee in young athletes

Knee pain is a common concern for which young athletes present to general practitioners, sports physicians and orthopedic surgeons.

Acute macro trauma to the knee, especially in contact or collision occurs less frequently and management is often in consultation with an orthopedic surgeon.

Overuse injuries affecting the knee account for the vast majority of adolescent related knee pain.

Causes of overuse injuries in the young athlete

The underlying pathophysiology of these injuries are related to repetitive and excessive strain on the musculoskeletal structures. This is often associated with a sudden increase in the intensity, duration and volume of physical activity, poor sport specific conditioning, insufficient sport-specific training, poor training techniques and inappropriate equipment for the sport.

Knee pain can either originate intrinsically from within the knee (see below) or referred from hip conditions and spine conditions.

Common causes of knee pain

  • Idiopathic anterior knee pain
  • Osgood Schlatter’s disease
  • Sinding-Larsen Johansson syndrome
  • Bipartite or multi-partite patella
  • Plica Syndrome
  • Iliotibial band (ITB) friction syndrome
  • Quadricep tendonitis
  • Popliteus tendonitis

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