Osgood Schlatter Disease – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods

Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease is one of the most common causes of knee pain in the adolescent. It occurs mostly in boys who are having a growth spurt during their pre-teen or teenage years. It is named after the two people who first described it. It is not serious and usually goes away in time. Having Osgood-Schlatter disease can be frustrating, because your child may need to limit his or her running and jumping activity level for a short time. Frequent use and physical stress cause inflammation (pain and swelling) at the point where the tendon from the kneecap (called the patella) attaches to the shinbone (tibia). The disorder is typified by a painful swelling just below the knee on the front (anterior) surface of the lower leg bone. OSD usually strikes active adolescents around the beginning of their growth spurts, the approximately 2-year period during which they grow most rapidly. Osgood-Schlatter disease is most often seen in preteen and teenage boys from 11 to 15 years old. The condition is characterized by localized pain and tenderness in this area.

Osgood-Schlatter disease usually occurs in just one knee, but sometimes it develops in both knees. It is felt that stress on the bone from the tendon tugging it during activities leads to Osgood-Schlatter disease. It is believed that Osgood-Schlatter disease results from the pull of the large powerful muscles in the front of the thigh (called the quadriceps). Osgood-Schlatter disease typically goes away over time (months to years after the normal bone growth stops). Because of a lack of a precise definition, it is difficult to differentiate OS disease from avulsion fractures of the tibial tubercle. The pain usually worsens with exercise, jumping, and sports such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, figure skating, and gymnastics. Treatment is conservative, with the use of pain-relieving medications, application of ice in the area of pain, and avoidance of stress on the knee caused by heavy quadriceps loading.

Causes of Osgood-Schlatter disease

The common causes and risk factor’s of Osgood-Schlatter disease include the following:

Activities that place repeated stress on the top of the tibia, the big bone in the lower leg, where the tendon of the kneecap inserts.

Tight quadriceps (front thigh) muscles.

Histologic studies support a traumatic etiology.

Teenagers who play a lot of sport involving kicking, running, or jumping.

Tight hamstrings (back thigh) muscles.

Risk factor: Age between 11-18 years.

Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease

Some sign and symptoms related to Osgood-Schlatter disease are as follows:

Pain, swelling, or tenderness below the knee.

Swelling of the bump on the front of the leg just below the kneecap.

Limping (may worsen following activities).

Tightness of the surrounding muscles, especially the thigh muscles (quadriceps).

Numbness or tingling in the knee

Feel or hear a snap, pop, or grinding in the knee.

Relief from pain with rest.

Treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease

Here is list of the methods for treating Osgood-Schlatter disease:

Apply ice or cold packs immediately to prevent or minimize swelling.

This injury needs rest if it is to heal properly.

Analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may be given for pain relief and reduction of local inflammation.

Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow.

Run at a slower speed or for a shorter amount of time and jump less often.

Wear a strap across the patellar tendon during high-impact activities, to help diminish the stress on the area in which the patellar tendon inserts.

Paracetamol or similar painkillers may be useful when pain flares up.

Rarely, surgery may be needed if the initial treatment fails.