What is Osgood Schlatter Disease? 

This condition happens most often in adolescents who are experiencing growth spurts, when the bone can grow more quickly than the attached tendon. This causes tightness that results in stress on the bone, cartilage or tendons when jumping and running.

Osgood Schlatter disease is also more common in young athletes who participate in sports that require repetitive motion, such as football, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and ballet. Doctors think that the fast changes in direction that some of these sports require may be a contributing factor.

This condition is most commonly diagnosed among boys and girls who are experiencing puberty. The onset of symptoms is usually gradual and will resolve with rest. In rare cases, Osgood Schlatter can damage to the growth plates of the bone and require surgery.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Osgood Schlatter are like other knee problems and may be difficult to diagnose. Signs that your child is experiencing Osgood Schlatter may include: 

A painful lump on shinbone or upper tibia

Soreness below the knee 

Swelling below the knee 

Limping

When to See a Doctor 

If your child is experiencing symptoms of Osgood Schlatter disease, schedule an appointment with a doctor. Early detection is important to prevent the condition from worsening. In rare cases, Osgood Schlatter can affect the growth plate of the bone and may require surgery. 

Causes 

Osgood Schlatter disease is generally caused by overuse and is common among adolescent athletes. Doctors believe it is caused by the rapid bone growth, which places tension on the tendon that connects the thigh muscle to the knee and shin. This tension is aggravated by sports that involve running or jumping, like basketball, ballet, and others. As the constant pulling of the tendon continues, it causes inflammation and pain. The risk factors for Osgood Schlatter disease include the following:

  • Age. Adolescents are at greater risk of this condition as they enter the ages of puberty. For boys, this is typically between 12-15. Girls experience puberty earlier and may have an earlier onset of this condition between the ages of 10-13.
  • Sports. While some doctors disagree about the exact cause of Osgood Schlatter’s disease, it is related to participation in sports and the repetitive motions of running and jumping.
  • Flexibility. Adolescents with greater flexibility tend to develop milder forms of this condition since flexible, strong supporting muscles and tendons allow for a greater range of motion without stress.

Diagnosis and Tests 

If you or your child are showing symptoms of Osgood Schlatter disease, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and ask about your medical history. An x-ray may be recommended.

If your doctor suspects another condition is the source of your knee pain or your child’s knee pain, additional testing like blood tests and CT or MRI scans may be recommended.

Treatments & Prevention

Treatments

Most adolescents who suffer from Osgood Schlatter’s disease can expect to make a full recovery with rest and limiting physical activity. Your doctor or your child’s doctor may recommend the following:

  • Taking a break from the usual physical activities.
  • Applying ice and using compression to reduce swelling.
  • Taking medicines like anti-inflammatories or pain relievers.
  • Stretching and doing physical therapy to strengthen surrounding muscles and increase flexibility.

It’s important to follow the treatment plan for Osgood Schlatter’s disease to prevent the condition from worsening and affecting the growth plate of the bone. In rare cases, this condition may require surgery.