Osgood-Schlatter disease is a problem with the patellar tendon, which is the tendon that attaches the kneecap to the shinbone. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscle to bones. Osgood-Schlatter disease causes pain and swelling just below the knee and over the bump at the top of the shinbone, where the growth plate of the shinbone is located.
Tendons can be injured suddenly or they may be slowly damaged over time. Your child can have tiny or partial tears in the tendon.
Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused by overuse of the patellar tendon. Overuse can cause irritation of the growth plate or of the area where the tendon attaches to the bone. It can lead to extra bone formation (sometimes the extra bone is in pieces).
Overuse can happen during normal childhood and sport activities. It may happen when the muscles are too tight in the front of the thigh, the back of the thigh, or in the calf. Osgood-Schlatter disease is seen most often in boys between the ages of 10 and 15. It usually appears when your child goes through a growth spurt.
Your child will complain of a painful, hard bump below the kneecap. The pain may come and go or the bump may stay painful and some activities, like kneeling, may be hard to do.
Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child and ask about his symptoms, activities, and medical history. Your child may have X-rays or other scans.
Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease usually go away when the child stops growing. This is about 6 to 24 months after your child starts having symptoms. Your child may need to rest or do activities that don’t cause knee pain. Your child will always have a bump even after the pain has gone away.
Your child's healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to help the knee heal. A special padded brace may help. Ask your child’s provider about this.
Sometimes the pain from Osgood-Schlatter disease lasts into adulthood. Adults with pain from pieces of bone in the knee may need surgery to remove the pieces of bone.
To help the swelling and pain, your child may:
Your child should do the exercises recommended by your healthcare provider.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.
Doctors don’t know how to prevent Osgood-Schlatter disease. The best way to prevent pain is to build muscle strength with exercise. Proper warm-up and stretching exercises of the thigh, hamstring, and calf muscles may also help.
Your child should avoid overtraining by limiting activity as soon as he notices the painful bump on the top of the shinbone.