8 Telltale Signs That Your Kid’s Knees Need to Be Examined


Knee joint pain is one of the most common complaints encountered by pediatricians. From mild injuries from playing sports to more serious causes like juvenile arthritis, there are many possible causes of joint issues in children. While some cause obvious symptoms, like pain and swelling, other knee problems can be harder to spot, especially if your child isn’t yet able to communicate what they’re feeling in detail.

The following are 8 telltale signs that your kid’s knees need to be examined.

  1. Your child has knee pain
  2. The knee is swollen
  3. The kneecap feels as if it slips out of place
  4. The knee has a limited range of motion
  5. The knee makes a clicking or popping sound
  6. The knee locks or “gets stuck” when trying to move it
  7. The knee feels as if it’s giving out or can’t support weight
  8. The child has changed their gait or is limping

Possible Causes of Knee Pain in Children

Fortunately, in most cases a child’s knee pain or symptoms are nothing more than growing pains or the result of a minor injury when playing or participating in physical activity. There are, however, other possible causes of these symptoms in children that make a proper examination of the knee important so that they can be ruled out.

The following are some possible causes of knee pain and the signs listed above in children.

  • Overuse injuries. The number of overuse injuries in children has been steadily rising in recent years. Overuse injuries occur gradually over a period of time when an activity, usually athletic in nature, is repeated with insufficient time to heal between playing. Children and adolescents are at a greater risk of these injuries than adults because they’re still growing. These injuries can affect the bones and joint, ligaments, tendons and growth plates, increasing their risk of further injury and abnormal bone growth. They tend to cause pain, swelling and a change in your child’s form or technique when doing certain activities.
  • Patellar tracking disorder. This refers to the kneecap (patella) slipping out of place when the child bends of straightens his or her leg. It is usually caused by a combination of factors, such as weakened thigh muscles, problems with the knee’s alignment or structure, or issues with the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the leg. Being overweight or participating in activities with repeated jumping and squatting increases a child’s risk of the disorder.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease. This is a common cause of knee pain in adolescents that causes inflammation of the area located just below the knee where the patellar tendon meets the tibia. Though repetitive strain of certain physical activities increases the risk of Osgood-Schlatter disease, rapid growth during adolescence is the most common cause. Active adolescents can also develop the condition.
  • Rheumatic diseases. Though aching joints and stiffness are a fairly common occurrence in growing children, these can also be signs of juvenile arthritis. If your child is experiencing joint pain and stiffness, especially symptoms appear to come on randomly or are accompanied by fever, contact your pediatrician.

In some cases, knee joint symptoms stem from a problem in the hip joint, which is why a knee examination performed by an experienced orthopedic specialist is important.

If your child is complaining of any of the symptoms or showing any of the signs listed here, a thorough examination by an orthopedic or sport medicine physician can help diagnose the cause of your child’s discomfort. If your child’s pain persists, contact us to help come up with a safe and effective treatment using the least invasive procedures possible.