Knee pain among young players occur due to the rapid direction changes, abrupt stops and ball handling techniques that places significant wear and tear on the patella and surrounding soft tissues. Soccer is one of the popular sports enjoyed by both adults and the young ones. Children who play the sport can help them grow both physically and socially.
Determining the exact cause and proper management of the knee pain early can prevent any serious developmental complications from occurring as well as avoid any further injury.
Aside from the knee pain, young soccer players can also experience the following:
- Skin warmth
- Swelling of the knee
- Aching sensation in the knee area
- Popping or grinding sound while walking
Children can also experience sharp stab-like sensation while squatting, jumping or climbing down the stairs. One or all of these symptoms can be present. Initially, the symptoms might only be evident right after a game. Nevertheless, as the injury becomes worse, the pain can also occur during play or when the child pushes the body to a higher level of performance.
What are the usual culprits?
Knee pain can occur when excessive pressure is placed on the thigh bone during a game that causes the cartilage below the kneecap to wear out.
Extensive overuse of the tendons and muscles due to running and jumping can lead to a condition known as Osgood-Schlatter’s disease. This involves the development of a sore bump in the spot where the patella connects to the shin.
Patellofemoral dysfunction involves injury to the cartilage in between the thigh bone and patella due to repetitive jumping and running. This is considered as the common cause of knee pain among soccer players.
In severe cases, the knee pain might be due to a stress fracture from a direct blow to the knee or sustaining a tear on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Young players must be carefully assessed by a doctor at the start of the knee pain. The treatment usually depends on the nature of the injury. Nevertheless, all players must rest until the symptoms subside, wrap the knee using a compression bandage, place a cold compress and elevate the affected limb.
Anti-inflammatory medications can be given to ease the swelling, pain and inflammation in the knee. As for serious injuries such as a fractured bone or ACL tear, surgery is required to repair the injured cartilage, ligament or bone.
Young players must warm up with a light 5-minute cardiovascular activity such as jogging to prevent knee pain and injury. Stretch out the calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and inner thighs before playing to prevent injuries.
The lower body muscles must be strengthened every other day with a 20-minute sessions of strength training even during off-season. This is vital to build up the leg muscles as well as prevent injuries.