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Hi, My daughter is in 6th grade. She has done well competing for her high school's track team, but is suffering from pain just below her knee. I believe she merely has shin splints. She competes inthe triple jump, 100M and 800M and also plays basketball. Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid further damage? Thanks.
The pain your daughter is likely feeling is patellar tendinitis, commonly referred to as "jumper's knee". Patellar tendinitis is essentially inflammation of the patella tendon which is the tendon that attaches the quadriceps muscles of the thigh to the shin bone through the patella (knee cap). This condition is typically a result of repeated forceful extension of the knee such as jumping or leg extension exercise. It is common in your daughter's age group and in basketball players as well. Left untreated patellar tendinitis may progress causing the pain to become more severe or lead to other painful conditions. Athletes usually respond well to rest. Complete rest is not always required. If she is playing basketball now it would be a advisable to discontiue as well as take a break from the triple jump for a week or two. Focusing on one or two running events (ie 100 and 200) would allow her to continue to train while decreasing the strain on the tendon which will allow healing to begin. Generally heating before activity and icing immediately following will assist with recovery as well as agressive stretching of the hamstring and quadricep muscles. A patella tendon strap may also provide some pain relief. You have likely seen these before. It is a simple velcro strap that is placed just below the knee cap. These are are available at most sporting goods stores. As with any injury, if she fails to respond to rest and conservative treatment or the pain gets worse consult your family physician or a sports medicine specialist. Good Luck!!! Doug Wolf, MS, ATC, CSCS Children's Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center www.columbuschildrens.com/sportsmedicine