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Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome

In Osgood-Schlatter disease, children have pain at the front of the knee due to inflammation of the growth plate at the upper end of the tibia (shinbone). This growth plate (known as the tibial tubercle) is a bump near the top of the tibia where the tendon from the kneecap (patellar tendon) attaches to the bone.

Osgood-Schlatter disease can cause inflammation and pain at the tibial tubercle - the place where the patellar tendon attaches to the tibia (shinbone).

When a child is active, the quadriceps muscles of the thigh pull on the patellar tendon which in turn, pulls on the tibial tubercle. In some children, this repetitive traction on the tubercle leads to inflammation, swelling, and tenderness. The prominence, or bump, of the tibial tubercle may become very pronounced. Painful symptoms are often brought on by running, jumping, and other sports-related activities.

Treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease focuses on limiting exercise activity until the pain resolves.

  • Stretching exercises. Stretches for the front and back of the thigh (quadriceps and hamstring muscles) may help relieve pain and prevent the disease from returning.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling.

  • Immobilization. If the pain is severe and interferes with walking and normal daily activities, a cast or knee immobilizer may be applied to completely rest the knee area.

Most symptoms will completely disappear when a child completes the adolescent growth spurt, around age 14 for girls and age 16 for boys. However, the prominence of the tubercle will persist. Until a child is fully grown, however, Osgood-Schlatter disease can lead to more severe problems if it is not allowed to heal. Continued stress on the tibial tubercle from athletic activity could potentially lead to a break in the tubercle bone. Treatment for this type of fracture will require casting or even surgery. In order for the fracture to safely heal, a child will not be allowed to participate in sports for a prolonged period of time.

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