Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common knee condition which affects growing adolescents. Typically, the area just below the knee where the kneecap tendon attaches to the shinbone becomes inflamed. The bones of children possess special areas called growth plates, which are areas of cartilage which will harden into solid bone as the child ages and becomes fully grown. During physical activity, these growth plates may become inflamed.
Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs primarily during a child’s growth spurts, when bones, tendons, and muscles are rapidly changing. Children who participate in athletics or are highly active are at an increased risk for this condition, but less active adolescents may also experience symptoms of this disease.
The more painful symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease are usually brought on by running, jumping, and other sports-related activities. Symptoms can affect either one or both knees, and include:
- Knee pain
- Swelling and tenderness at the child’s tibial tubercle (a bony bump covering the growth plate at the end of the tibia)
- Tightening of the muscles in the front or back of the thigh
If your child is experiencing a combination of these symptoms, it may be time to make a doctor’s appointment. Your child’s doctor can conduct a thorough examination to determine the cause of knee pain, which may include applying pressure to the tibial tubercle. Additional exam procedures may include conducting x-rays or a physical activity test, such as asking your child to walk, run and jump to see if the movements bring on pain.
The main focus in treating Osgood-Schlatter disease focuses on relieving pain and swelling from your child’s knees. This may mean reducing exercising until you child can enjoy the activity without pain or discomfort. Rest can be required for several months and may be accompanied with a strength conditioning program.
If your child is not in a large amount of pain, participation in sports and other physical activities may be safe to continue, but it is best to consult with your doctor.
Additional treatment options may include:
- Stretching exercises for the thighs, quadriceps and hamstrings. This may help prevent pain.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen can aid in reducing pain and swelling.
Typically, most symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease will completely disappear after a child completes their adolescent growth spurt (around age 14 for girls and 16 for boys).
At Orthopaedic Specialty Group, we offer a wide variety of treatments to help our patients deal with conditions such as chronic pain, sports injuries, and more. Contact us today to schedule your appointment (203) 337-2600!