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Is it worrisome when student athletes can pop joints in and out of place?

Jennifer J. Beck, MD
Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery
It is worrisome when student athletes can pop joints in and out of place. Two things that are absolute red flags are if the athlete has popping that causes pain and if there is any swelling that is associated with it. These are reasons to take the child to see a sports medicine doctor in the next few days.

If the student athlete continues to have these problems, it just causes more damage, sometimes leading to cartilage damage. Examples are the knee cap popping in and out of place, a torn meniscus that is flipping in and out of place, or a loose piece of bone or cartilage floating around the knee, causing damage. These are all things that are worrisome, so a child who has pain or swelling and popping should definitely be seen by a sports medicine provider. Surgery may be necessary, but less invasive treatments, such as bracing and physical therapy, may also help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.