19 answers

Help! My 12 Year Old's Knees Have Been Hurting

for a few weeks now. I am really concerned. I was thinking it might be growing pains. He is going through puberty BIG time. Hair everywhere, his voice has gotten lower, and is taller than me!!! Has anyone else had any experience with growing pains? He hasn't falled on his knees or done any damage to them. He says they really hurt when he runs but at night after resting all night they are ok in the morning. If anyone could help I would appreciate it! Thanks!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I too have a 12 year old (girl) who is experiencing knee pain. We were told by the doc to take glocosemine (sp?). They sell it OTC in capsules or if you can't do that, and this sounds weird, have him eat jello every day. Jello contains glocosamine. Who'd a thunk it?!? Good luck.

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I believe I was about that age when I started having problems with my knees. My parents finally took me to the doctor & it wasn't growing pains...I had fluid on my knees. The doctor wanted to extract it, but I was NOT interested in the procedure...sounded WAY too painful! We found out it was something I could live without so we ended up medicating with Tylenol for a while (couple months, I think) & my knees ended up feeling better over time. I would medicate him with Tylenol for a week or two & see how it goes...if they are still hurting after that, I would take him to the doctor to see what he has to say. Hope all goes well!

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Hi T.,

I could have written your e-mail two weeks ago. My son was in pain for a month and I waited until his well visit last week to take him to the pediatrician. To save you a trip, here is what our doc diagnosed:

Osgood Schlatter Disease:

Osgood-Schlatter (say: "oz-good shlot-ter") disease is one of the most common causes of knee pain in young athletes. It causes swelling, pain and tenderness just below the knee, over the shin bone (also called the tibia). It occurs mostly in boys who are having a growth spurt during their pre-teen or teenage years. One or both knees may be affected.

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What causes Osgood-Schlatter disease?
It is believed that Osgood-Schlatter disease results from the pull of the large powerful muscles in the front of the thigh (called the quadriceps). The quadriceps join with the patellar tendons, which run through the knee and into the tibia, to connect the muscles to the knee. When the quadriceps contract, the patellar tendons can start to pull away from the shin bone, causing pain.

This problem becomes more noticeable during activities that require running, jumping or going up or down stairs. It's most common in young athletes who play football, soccer or basketball or are involved in gymnastics and ballet.

Osgood-Schlatter disease usually goes away with time. When your child stops growing, the pain and swelling should go away because the patellar tendons become much stronger. Only rarely does Osgood-Schlatter disease persist beyond the growing stage.

Your doctor may want to examine your child and get a knee x-ray to make sure the pain isn't caused by something else.

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How is Osgood-Schlatter disease treated?
Your doctor may tell your child to cut down on time spent playing sports until the pain has been gone for 2 to 4 months. Your child may need to avoid any activity that requires deep knee bending. Your child may also need to run at a slower speed or for a shorter amount of time and jump less often.
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How should my child's pain be treated?
If pain develops, ice should be applied to some areas. Using ice can help prevent swelling and pain. The knee should be wrapped with an elastic bandage and elevated.

A memory aid that may help remind you of these four basic treatment steps is the word "RICE":

R = Rest the knee from the painful activity.

I = Ice the affected area for 20 minutes, 3 times a day.

C = Compress the painful area with an elastic bandage.

E = Elevate the leg.

If these treatment steps don't work, your doctor may suggest that your child wear braces that will reduce tension on the patellar tendons and quadriceps. Pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen (some brand names: Advil, Motrin) may reduce the pain and swelling. Your child may need to use crutches for a while to allow complete healing. As a last resort, your child's doctor may suggest surgery.

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How long will it take for my child's knee to get better?
It may take several weeks or months for the pain to completely stop. When the pain is completely gone, your child may slowly return to his or her previous level of activity.

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Is there anything that can be done to prevent the disease from happening again?
Your doctor may prescribe some exercises such as straight-leg raises, leg curls and quadriceps contractions for your child to do at home or with a physical therapist to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings. This should help prevent further problems. While your child is recovering, ice should be applied to the area after exercise to prevent pain and swelling.

In most people, Osgood-Schlatter disease goes away on its own with a little rest and time. If your child ignores or plays through the pain, the disease may get worse and may be more difficult to treat.

2 moms found this helpful

Big growth spurts can definitely affect the knees especially in pre-teens. He could be developing Osgood Schlatter's disease (where the quadriceps tendon-thigh muscle- attaches to the shin bone) if his pain is at the top/front of his shin. Or he could be having some patellofemoral issues if his pain is underneath the knee cap. I would take him to the doctor and get a referral for physical therapy. The PT can teach him some stretches and specific strengthening exercises to avoid any long-term issues. He would probably only need 3-4 visits to get a home exercise program going, but then he would need to do it as prescribed at home or during athletic periods at school if he is unable to participate. Good luck. hd

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Yes---I have experience with growing pains! Get some of the chewable calcium ---let him chew a couple a day---you will not believe how that will help with the pains! The reason they hurt at night is the inactivity----the bones grow fast but the soft tissue(muscles, tendons) don't grow as fast--during the day when he is active it is fine--but at night the muscles and tendons start to constrict--thus the pain---calcium really helps this and muscle cramps!

1 mom found this helpful

Hello T.,

you can try a few things. first, make sure he's getting enough calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. After calcium, the next most abundant mineral in our body is magnesium. Also, make sure he's getting enough vitamin D. And that he's drinking enough water. NO SODA no drinks with high fructose corn syrup either.

By the way, does he have any food allergies? wheat sensitivity? gluten intolerance?
he can put some lavender oil on his knees at night to help with the pain.

has he been to a chiropractor? if his spine is out of alignment, the body starts over compensating.

what about his shoes? are his shoes worn out uneven?
is he using flip flops? or crocks? or shoes with very little support?

well, that's all I can think of...for now. Good luck! ~C.~

1 mom found this helpful

You have had some good advice so far. I too remember my knees hurting at that age and told my parents I had juevenille arthritis, they just laughed at me. It was painful and I wish they had taken me seriously. I did out grow it in a few months. As a mom, my own 11 year old complained of knee pains. I took him to a ortho and he said it was growing pains. He said make sure to get enough calcium during this growth period. He said white milk or flavored milks were ok but that chocolate milk somehow won't let the calcium be absorbed. Get at least 8 oz a day. We were conscience of his milk intake and he did get better.
Good Luck- my son also just got hair under his arms...he is now upset to be growing up and wants to be a kid longer, I wish he could be too...

1 mom found this helpful

I too have a 12 year old (girl) who is experiencing knee pain. We were told by the doc to take glocosemine (sp?). They sell it OTC in capsules or if you can't do that, and this sounds weird, have him eat jello every day. Jello contains glocosamine. Who'd a thunk it?!? Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello T.,
I have a 12 year old son also and he went through that right after he turned 12. He would almost be in tears it hurt so much...I took him to his pedi and they told me it was just growing pains. They just recommended for him to make sure he was getting enough liquids throughout the day. He still struggles with it but it has definitely improved over the last few months!! I hope he feels better soon. Sometimes you feel so helpless when there is nothing you can do for them...
God Bless

1 mom found this helpful

I had pretty serious growing pains at that age myself--especially the knees. They felt very tender right under the kneecaps. The pain went away over time. I never did anything for the pain except whine a little! :)

1 mom found this helpful

My son has serious growing pains from about 2 years old. The worst is behind the knee. He also is low tone so his knees hurt more when he uses new muscles.

I would check with the pediatrician but most likely it's nothing serious. Still, it's worth looking into.

Hope he feels better.

1 mom found this helpful

The same exact thing happened to me when I was 12. I was growing and participating in Ballet 2 x week, plus Gymnastics 3 or 4 x week.

I told my mom that my knees were hurting really bad. She was a nurse and she knew exactly what was happening: my bones were lengthening at a rapid pace and the tendons & ligaments weren't keeping up. (Osgood-Schlatter thing.)

We did nothing about it. No doctor. No ice. No Tylenol. I just lived through the pain and didn't push those GRANDE PLIES (deep knee bends) in my ballet class. Within weeks or months, the pain disappeared.

1 mom found this helpful

Hey - I'm not a doctor but my brother grew about 4 inches one summer (he was twelve at the time) and he told me once that he experienced pain in his legs that summer and lost control of bowel and bladder a couple of times during the night that summer too. -e.

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You may want to check it out to see if it isn't something else, but I know growing pains can really make their legs hurt, espically when they go to bed at night.

1 mom found this helpful

I would have an x-ray or mri or something done to make sure there isn't an injury or hereditary knee problem causing the pain. It's worth getting checked out since your son seems to be an athelete.

Even if it is just growing pains I'm thinking that a physical therapist or just the doctor you take him to could recommend some stretches or massage techniques that would help his muscles loosen up. You may be able to give him some sort of pain meds (advil or children's advil?) that could help his muscles relax. I've heard yoga helps with pain. I know a big muscle-y firefighter that had to do yoga for a back injury, and he said nothing worked better! Some kids like yoga, and there are classes for kids. I don't think your son should skip the before and after stretches before he runs or does anything athletic. He doesn't have to overdo it, but I wouldn't skip it. It will hurt a bit though. However, the physical therapist or professional would know more about all that and what to recommend.

Hope this helps!
Holly

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter was about 13/14 years old and complained that her knees hurt her. I took her to an orthopedic dr. twice about this because she was in so much pain and they told me it was growing pains! If you are still unsure, then I would take her to an orthopedic dr. My daughter was n pain for months!

M.

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If I had to guess, with growing fast, he may have some mucle imbalances that are putting undo stress on his knee joints, possibly causing patello-femoral syndrome, or some other knee issue. I would recommend going to your pediatrician and requesting a P.T. prescription. I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

More than likely it's just growing pains. I have 5 sons and have dealt with this more than once! Keep an eye on his knees just to be sure that there is no swelling. If he complains for more than a week of it constantly hurting him then I would go see a dr., but I really think that it is just growing pains because he has more pain after physical activity. He's at the right age for all those joints to start aching!

1 mom found this helpful

I hope you have medical insurance. I had to have a CT scan to find out that I had an OCD lesion, which means a portion of my bone on the bottom of the thigh bone died. It's not hereditary it just happened, and I must have had it in High school. I had MRI's and ex rays and a lot of Dr's wanted to do temporary fixes and finally I had some of the bone removed and they want me to wait ten yrs to get a knee replacement. I High school I thought it was arthritis and did nothing about it. I could have had it fix a lot easier if I had known and did something about it. I'm really sorry he is going through a lot of pain. I suggest talking to a Dr. and asking about joint replacement pills. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

My 11 yr old daughter was under doc. care for osgood-schlater. She was sent for x-rays to see if there was any damage to the surrounding tendon/muscles & put on 400mg of Ibuprofen, iceing,(she plays scoccer)& taken off any sports activities, PE in school for 1 mo.
After that month she still had mod. tenderness & had to see a physical therapist. Due to a rapid growth spurt. She seems to be fine now.
kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_fit/fitness/osgood.html

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