Osgood Schlatter Disease

Osgood Schlatter disease is a disease affecting the knee, specifically the lower front.


Osgood Schlatter disease primarily affects the cartilage, bone, and large tendon called the patellar tendons located under the kneecap or on top of the tibia or shinbone. It is characterized by tenderness or localized pain in the affected area.

Who are at Risk in Osgood Schlatter Disease?

Osgood Schlatter disease commonly affects growing children or young adolescents, particularly children who are involved in sports. It is in this age wherein the bones develop faster than the tendons and muscles in the body. This results in the tendons and muscles becoming tight. This disease is common among young athletes who are fond of playing sports and games, which involve jumping and running. These include sports such as: soccer, basketball, football, ballet, or gymnastics. They also primarily affect boys because of their involvement in such activities.

Osgood Schlatter Disease Causes

Children have different types of long bones in their body. They can be found in the child’s extremities like the legs and arms. Each long bone has its own growth plate at the end of each bone, which is made up of cartilage. The cartilage is a connective tissue. Excessive stress on the growth plates may result to pain and swelling.

Sports such as: ballet, basketball, soccer, and volleyball which involve a lot of bending, jumping, and running causes the muscles in the thigh to pull the tendon connecting the shinbone and kneecap. Repeated pulling causes excessive stress resulting to the tendon being pulled away from the shinbone. This then causes swelling and pain in the area which is commonly associated with the disease. The child’s body then compensates on the gap through growing a new bone. The new bone causes a bony lump in the affected spot.

Osgood Schlatter Disease Symptoms

Pain caused by the disease may vary from one person to another. Some may experience mild pain when doing activities especially jumping and running. Others may as well experience excruciating pain. The pain in this disease usually occurs only in one knee, although, in some cases, both knees may develop pain. The discomfort may last several weeks or months and may reoccur until the child stops growing.

Other signs and symptoms of the disease also include tenderness and swelling on the bony lump on the knee. The pain felt usually worsens with activity and is relieved by rest. Tightness can be felt on the muscles surrounding the knee. The disease may also be manifested by limping after activities.

Osgood Schlatter Disease Diagnosis

The diagnosis of the disease may depend on the results of medical history and physical examination. Physical examination may involve checking the knee of the child. The physician inspects the knee for swelling, redness, pain, and tenderness. The physician may also ask the patient to perform range of motion exercises for the hips (See: Hip pain) and knees. Diagnostic procedures also help with the diagnosis of the disease. X-rays are used to aid the doctor in looking at the bones of the legs and knees. They help the doctor in closely examining the affected area.

Osgood Schlatter Disease Complications

Complications in this disease are uncommon. Although some people may experience chronic pain and swelling, this can be cured with cold compresses and medications. The bony lump on the child’s shinbone may remain and become permanent, but it doesn’t usually interrupt with the child’s activities of daily living.

Osgood Schlatter Disease Treatment and Management

The disease usually goes away without treatment when the child becomes a teenager or when the bones become mature. However, this doesn’t mean that the disease should be neglected. Symptoms such as swelling and pain should be treated. Management for the disease mainly involves rest. The doctor’s usually recommends that the child should rest or limit activities. The child may also continue with the activity or sport but if pain exists, the child should rest.

The child may also use shock-absorbent insoles to decrease the pressure on the knee. Alternating hot and cold compress also help relieves swelling. It is also recommended that the child wear knee pads to prevent direct trauma and tension to the knee. Exercises that strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles (See: Hamstring injury) should also be done before and after an activity. A sport massage in the affected area may also aid in managing the symptoms. The doctor may also prescribe pain medications such as ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory medications.

In severe cases of Osgood Schlatter disease, the child should be totally restricted in involving themselves in sports and other physically demanding activities. Patients experiencing severe symptoms require more rest. The doctor may apply braces or casts to prevent movement in the area that causes pressure. A physical therapist may also be required in order to aid the patient in performing exercises that can help strengthen the muscles and reduce tension in the affected area. They may also aid the patient in rehabilitation after treatment.

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