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Osgood Schlatter Disease | The Gilbert Clinic
What Is It?
Osgood-Schlatter disease can cause a painful lump below the kneecap in children and adolescents experiencing growth spurts during puberty.
Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs most often in children who participate in sports that involve running, jumping and swift changes of direction — such as soccer, basketball, figure skating and ballet.
While Osgood-Schlatter disease is more common in boys, the gender gap is narrowing as more girls become involved with sports.
Age ranges differ by sex because girls experience puberty earlier than do boys. Osgood-Schlatter disease typically occurs in boys ages 13 to 14 and girls ages 11 to 12. The condition usually resolves on its own, once the child’s bones stop growing.
The pain associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease varies from person to person. Some have only mild pain while performing certain activities, especially running and jumping. For others, the pain is nearly constant and debilitating.
Osgood-Schlatter disease usually occurs in just one knee, but sometimes it develops in both knees. The discomfort can last from weeks to months and may recur until your child has stopped growing.
During activities that involve a lot of running, jumping and bending — such as soccer, basketball, volleyball and ballet — your child’s thigh muscles (quadriceps) pull on the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone.
This repeated stress can cause the tendon to pull away from the shinbone a bit, resulting in the pain and swelling associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease. In some cases, your child’s body may try to close that gap with new bone growth, which can result in a bony lump at that spot.
Who’s at Risk?
The main risk factors for Osgood-Schlatter disease are:
- Age. Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs during puberty’s growth spurts. Age ranges differ by sex because girls experience puberty earlier than do boys. Osgood-Schlatter disease typically occurs in boys ages 13 to 14 and girls ages 11 to 12.
- Sex. Osgood-Schlatter disease is more common in boys, but the gender gap is narrowing as more girls become involved with sports.
- Sports. The condition happens most often with sports that involve a lot of running, jumping and swift changes in direction.
Complications of Osgood-Schlatter disease are uncommon. They may include chronic pain or localized swelling. Even after symptoms have resolved, a bony lump may remain on the shinbone in the area of the swelling. This lump may persist to some degree throughout your child’s life, but it doesn’t usually interfere with knee function.
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your child’s knee for tenderness, swelling, pain and redness. X-rays may be taken to look at the bones of the knee and leg and to more closely examine the area where the kneecap tendon attaches to the shinbone.
Osgood-Schlatter disease usually gets better without formal treatment. Symptoms typically disappear after your child’s bones stop growing.
Exercises to stretch the thigh’s quadriceps and hamstring muscles, which may help reduce the tension on the spot where the kneecap’s tendon attaches to the shinbone. Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps can help stabilize the knee joint.
Tips to help with the symptoms:
- Rest the joint. Limit the time spent doing activities that aggravate the condition, such as kneeling, jumping and running.
- Ice the affected area. This can help with pain and swelling.
- Stretch leg muscles. Stretching the quadriceps, the muscles on the front of the thigh, is especially important. …(Stretches)
- Protect the knee. When your child is participating in sports, have him or her wear a pad over the affected knee at the point where the knee may become irritated.
- Try a strap. A patella tendon strap fits around the leg just below the kneecap. It can help to “tack down” the kneecap’s tendon during activities and distribute some of the force away from the shinbone.
- Cross-train. Suggest that your child switch to activities that don’t involve jumping or running, such as cycling or swimming, until symptoms subside.