A common knee fracture found in athletic adolescent boys

A common knee fracture found in athletic adolescent boys

During what looked like a routine play on the soccer field, Ryan Klainos jumped in the air and came crashing to the ground in excruciating pain that reduced the 6-foot-1-inch, 175-pound freshman athlete to tears.

His father, Mark Klainos, couldn’t believe his eyes. On the field taking photos, he walked over to his son prepared to nudge him with a “shake it off” admonishment. But, Ryan Klainos, 14, couldn’t shake it off. Something was seriously wrong.

“There was no violent collision, no contact with another player, says Mark Klainos. “He just went up for a header and on his way up he instantly grabbed for his knee. The athletic trainer was trying to figure out what was wrong. Every time he touched him, Ryan howled in pain.”

Ryan Klainos’ agony was caused by a fracture called a tibial tubercle avulsion. This type of fracture occurs almost exclusively in kids his age, says Dr. Gregory Caronis, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.

“These fractures occur during the transitional phase before the growth plate closes,” says Dr. Caronis, who performed his subsequent surgery. “Usually, they’re isolated injuries related to push off or landing while jumping.”

In Ryan Klainos’ case, his sudden jump accompanied by a powerful muscle contraction pulled away a piece of bone in his right knee.

Sometimes these fractures can be reduced with the patient under anesthesia without a surgical incision. In Ryan Klainos’ case, a soft tissue prevented him from not needing surgery. Dr. Caronis made a small, minimally invasive incision to free and stabilize the fracture using three screws. No cast was needed.

The day he had surgery at Condell Medical Center, he went home with a brace and crutches. For three weeks, he used a wheelchair to get around Libertyville High School. Although he missed the rest of his freshman soccer season, he was back to pre-injury condition in no time. Soon he was participating in winter training for baseball, and playing club soccer.

Nothing could have prevented the fracture, but Dr. Caronis says, in general, youth sports injuries are on the rise.

“Kids are training and playing sports with more intensity,” he says.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offers these strategies for preventing youth sports injuries:

  • Be in proper physical condition
  • Know and abide by the sports’ rules
  • Wear appropriate gear
  • Know how to correctly use athletic equipment
  • Always warm up before playing
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid playing when very tired or in pain

Sports Expo for Chicago area residents

For those in the Chicagoland area, sports safety is among the key focuses of a Feb. 6 Sports Expo organized by Advocate Condell Medical Center’s Orthopedic and Spine Center. The event is from 9 a.m. to noon at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort. It’s a free event for middle school- and high school-aged children and their parents.

Caronis and four other Condell Medical Center physicians will be at the expo to talk about sports safety and to conduct informational sessions on a variety of topics, including jumping injuries, throwing injuries, stability and strength training and concussions. Additionally, free physical therapy sports specific screenings will be available for kids.

At the expo, kids and their parents will have an opportunity to meet coaches and representatives from teams from a variety of different sports throughout Lake County. Parents can ask questions and conduct side-by-side team comparisons. There will be raffles and giveaways.

Mark Klainos says parents should take advantage of the opportunity to talk with and hear from coaches and physicians.

“The more information parents have the better,” he says. “If your kids are going to get involved in sports, ask questions. Make sure you know as much as you can.”

To register for the free Sports Expo or to learn more, go to https://healthadvisor.advocatehealth.com/Classes or call 1-800-323-8622. Use code 5G59.

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About the Author

Kathleen Troher
Kathleen Troher

Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.