This disease is caused by overuse of the leg.
Typical symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness at the knee.
The diagnosis is based on a physical examination and sometimes x-rays.
Treatment usually includes pain relief and rest.
(See also Overview of Bone Disorders in Children Overview of Bone Disorders in Children Bone disorders can be caused by injury, infection, or cancer, be inherited, occur as part of a child’s growth, or occur for no known reason. Some bone disorders can cause pain and difficulty... read more .)
Osgood-Schlatter disease is an osteochondrosis, which is a group of disorders of the growth plates that occur when the child is growing rapidly. Doctors are not sure what causes osteochondrosis, but the disorders do seem to run in families. Köhler bone disease Köhler Bone Disease Köhler bone disease is death (necrosis) of the tarsal navicular bone (a bone at the arch of the foot) due to loss of its blood supply. (See also Overview of Bone Disorders in Children.) Köhler... read more , Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease involves destruction of the hip in children. This disease is caused by a poor blood supply to the upper growth plate of the thighbone near the hip joint. Typical symptoms... read more , and Scheuermann disease Scheuermann Disease Kyphosis is an abnormal curving of the spine that causes a humpback. (See also Overview of Bone Disorders in Children.) The upper back normally curves forward somewhat. Some children have a... read more are other osteochondroses.
Osgood-Schlatter disease develops between the ages of 10 and 15 and usually affects only one leg. The disease is usually more common among boys, but the gender gap is narrowing as more girls become involved in sports programs.
The cause of Osgood-Schlatter disease is thought to be repetitive, excessive pulling of the tendon of the kneecap (patella) where it attaches at the top of the shinbone. This attachment point is called the tibial tubercle.
The major symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease are pain, swelling, and tenderness at the tibial tubercle at the front of the knee just below the kneecap. The pain worsens with activity and is relieved with rest.
Diagnosis of Osgood-Schlatter Disease
A doctor's evaluation
Doctors base the diagnosis of Osgood-Schlatter disease on an examination and the child's symptoms.
X-rays Plain X-Rays X-rays are high-energy radiation waves that can penetrate most substances (to varying degrees). In very low doses, x-rays are used to produce images that help doctors diagnose disease. In high... read more of the knee may show the tibial tubercle has enlarged or has broken into fragments. However, x-rays are generally not needed unless the child has other symptoms, such as pain and swelling that extend beyond the knee or pain that is accompanied by redness and warmth. These symptoms suggest another disorder, such as an injury or joint inflammation.
Treatment of Osgood-Schlatter Disease
Measures to relieve pain
Rarely immobilization, corticosteroid injection, and surgery
Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease usually resolve after several weeks or months. Avoiding excessive exercise and deep knee bending helps reduce pain. However, doctors do allow children with Osgood-Schlatter disease to continue to participate in sports or exercise even when they are in pain.
Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Pain relievers (analgesics) are the main drugs used to treat pain. Doctors choose a pain reliever based on the type and duration of pain and on the drug's likely benefits and risks. Most pain... read more (NSAIDs), stretching exercises, and application of ice on the affected knee may help relieve the pain.
Rarely, the leg may need to be immobilized in a plaster cast, a corticosteroid may need to be injected below the skin, or surgical procedures that involve the removal of fragments of bone, drilling, and grafting may be required.