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Why do my knees hurt after a lot of jumping and running?

I'm an 18 year old female. Ever since I was 11 or 12 years old, my knees hurt really bad after a lot of running or jumping. It hurts worse when I squat or bend my knees with weight on them. It hurts right below my kneecap most of the time. Every time I straighten my legs, my knees pop. I went to the doctor about it when I was 12 and they told me it should get better on it's own but it never did.
Based on your description of this pain and its location, you may have what's called Osgood Schlatter's disease (also known as tibial tuberosity traction injury). This pain comes from the patellar tendon pulling on the tibia (lower leg bone) when we are younger and the growth plates have not fused yet. Small pieces of bone can fracture off causing pain and swelling. Over time, the growth plates fuse, the injuries heal, and the pain should (in theory) stop. However, in some people with severe disease early in their life, it takes years for the pain in the knees to go away. Still some people report mild pain after heavy exercise even years after puberty. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. He or she can examine you knees and order any imaging necessary such as an x-ray or MRI. If your pain is derived from the so called Osgood-Schatter's disease, then you will likely grow out of it eventually. In the mean time, you can use pain control with Tylenol and Ibuprofen, and ice/rest when your knees really hurt. You may benefit from some physical therapy to regain strength in muscles that you have not used because of the pain.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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