Osgood Schlatter Disease
Osgood-Schlatter disease refers to a condition of an overuse injury that occurs in the knee region of growing children and adolescents. This is caused by inflammation of the tendon located below the knee cap (patellar tendon). Children and adolescents who participate in sports such as soccer, gymnastics, basketball and distance running are at higher risk of this disease.
What is Osgood-Schlatter Disease?
In growing children, bones contain areas called “growth plates” made of cartilage. As the children grow, these cartilaginous zones solidify into bone matter once they reach their final size. Depending on the locations, some growth plates double as anchors for the tendons. Osgood-Schlatter Disease occurs at the attachment site of the quadriceps muscles and tibial tubercle. The tibial tubercle consists of a bony bump that covers the growth plate at the end of the tibia. When running or jumping, the quadriceps pull on the patellar tendon, resulting in a pull on the tibial tubercle. In some active children, this repeated action causes inflammation of the growth plate, resulting in a large painful bump below the knee called Osgood-Schlatter Disease.
Outdoor sports activities which involve a lot of running and jumping may induce stress on the thigh muscles which in turn pull the patellar tendon which connects the knee cap to the tibia. Repeated stress can cause the tendon to move away from the tibia which results in pain and swelling of the affected knee. In some cases, the body may try to close the gap with new bone growth which results in a bony lump in that region.
The main symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease include
- Knee pain
- Tenderness below the knee cap area
Diagnosis of Osgood-Schlatter disease includes review of symptoms and medical history. A physical examination will be performed where your doctor will check your child’s knee for pain, swelling, and inflammation. An X-ray or MRI scan may be ordered to view images of the bones of the knee and examine in detail the area of the affected tendons and tibia.
The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and swelling. The treatment includes the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. Physical therapy may include strengthening exercises for the thigh muscles to help stabilize the knee joint. Most of the symptoms associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease completely disappear with completion of the growth spurt (period of rapid growth rate).