What is Osgood-Schlatter Disease?
Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition caused by overuse and occurs when the tendon in a knee becomes injured and inflamed. This tendon connects the thigh muscles to the knee and shin bone.
Causes of Osgood-Schlatter Disease
Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused by the constant pulling of the tendon in the knee. It is seen in growing children and teens. This is an age where the bones are typically growing faster than the muscles and tendons. As a result, the muscles and tendons tend to become tight.
Osgood-Schlatter disease is most common in young athletes who play games or sports that involve running, jumping, or going up and down stairs. These include football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, or ballet. It most often affects preteen and teenage boys ages 10 to 15.
Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter Disease
Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease can occur differently in each child. The following are the most common symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease:
- Soreness below the knee
- Swelling below the knee
- Limping (may worsen following jumping activities)
These symptoms may seem like other health problems of the knee, so it is important to see your child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child’s healthcare provider can diagnose Osgood-Schlatter disease with a complete health history and physical exam of your child’s knee. Your child may also need to have an X-ray of the affected knee.
Osgood-Schlatter Disease Treatment
Treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
The goal of treatment is to control your child’s knee pain and prevent the condition from worsening. Treatment may include:
- RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation)
- Medicines such as anti-inflammatories for discomfort and swelling
- Elastic wrap, padding, or a neoprene knee sleeve around the knee
- Limits on activity
- Physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the thigh and leg muscles
Osgood-Schlatter disease often goes away over time. In rare cases, your child may need surgery.
It is important to note that your child can develop Osgood-Schlatter disease again. To prevent that from happening, have your child:
- Do exercises to strengthen the thigh and leg muscles. Your child’s healthcare provider may recommend certain exercises or physical therapy.
- Ice the knee area after being active. It can ease pain and swelling. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.