Knee Fractures in Children
Knee fractures in children are not uncommon. The most common causes are from playing sports, playground injuries, bicycles falls and other “rough and tumble” activities that most children get up to.
Proper diagnosis of the fracture is crucial as a wrong diagnosis can have significant consequences to the child. Diagnosing a fracture as a sprain is one area where the correct diagnosis is most important. In growing children the ligaments surrounding their knees can be stronger than the knee joint cartilage or the growth plates adjacent to the knee. Misdiagnosing a fracture here as ligament sprain could have major implications later on.After proper diagnosis and treatment of knee fractures, knee exercises are recommended to assist proper healing.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Children
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries in children (acl injuries) are a lot more common that was first thought. Teenage girls participating in soccer are several times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than boys. Although relatively easy to diagnose an ACL injury in adults, it is somewhat more difficult in children.
A “pop” in the knee followed by the knee filling tightly with fluid is usually the first sign. The child will usually have difficulty walking on the affected leg and will be in considerable pain. Diagnosis if Knee Fractures in Children and ACL Injuries The first step is to have the knee X-rayed to confirm the injury and, in the case of growing children, to ensure there is no damage to growth plates above or below the knee or to the bone to which the anterior cruciate ligament is attached.
Knowing exactly what sort of fracture of injury the knee has suffered to determine not only the type of treatment but also the urgency of the surgery. There are several ways to determine if the ACL has been torn but an MRI is one of the best. The added benefit of an MRI when diagnosing knee fractures in children is that damage to other areas of the knee joint can be observed. The most definitive method is by arthroscopy of the knee where the knee joint is actually looked at using keyhole surgery.
Treatment of ACL Injuries in Children
It was commonly thought in the past that reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament should not be done until the child has stopped growing. This placed a great deal of stress on the child to cease or modify the sporting activity as the risk of doing more damage to the knee by leaving the ACL untreated has been patently established.
For children over the age of 10 years it is now common practice for ACL reconstruction to be performed and has been shown to be highly successful. This allows normal sporting activities to be resumed much sooner.