Definition

Osgood-Schlatter disease is swelling of the growth plate at the top of the shinbone. Growth plates are areas of new bone growth near the ends of bones in children.

The Knee
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Causes

This disease is caused by repeated tension or stress on the upper part of the shinbone during growth spurts.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in children who play sports. It is more common in boys who are 10 to 15 years of age. It can also happen in girls who are 8 to 13 years of age.

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Pain and swelling below the knee that usually worsens during physical activity
  • A swollen, painful bump below the knee

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms, health history, and physical activity. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the knee. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Pictures may be needed of the knee to rule out other causes. This can be done with x-rays.

Treatment

Osgood-Schlatter disease may go away when the bones and tendons have finished growing. The bump may be permanent.

The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:

  • Supportive care, such as ice packs and limiting activities
  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling, such as ibuprofen
  • Wearing a bandage, brace, or cast to keep the knee in place while it heals
  • Therapy to help with strength and range of motion

Surgery may be needed when other methods do not help. This is not common.

Prevention

The risk of this overuse injury may be lowered by:

  • Limiting the number of teams that a child plays on during one season
  • Not playing the same sport year round
  • Delaying specializing in one sport until the late teen years
  • Planning periods of time off from a sport
RESOURCES:

Family Doctor— American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

REFERENCES:

Nakase J, Goshima K, et al. Precise risk factors for Osgood-Schlatter disease. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2015;135(9):1277-1281.

Osgood-Schlatter disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/osgood-schlatter-disease-17. Accessed October 8, 2020.

Overuse injuries in children. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00613. Accessed October 8, 2020.

10/5/2016 EBSCO DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillancehttps://www.dynamed.com/condition/osgood-schlatter-disease-17: Brenner JS. Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Sports specialization and intensive training in young athletes. Pediatrics. 2016;138(3) [Epub ahead of print].

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS  Last Updated: 10/8/2020