Osgood-Schlatter Disease

What is Osgood-Schlatter disease?

In the absence of a traumatic injury, Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is one of the most common causes of knee pain in growing kids. Compared to adults, kids are skeletally immature and are more susceptible to overuse injuries such as this. This condition is due to repetitive contraction and motion at its insertion on the under developed bone.

The patellar tendon becomes strained and inflamed with this chronic trauma. This leads to pain at the tibial tubercle (the boney bump right below the knee cap).

Who gets it the most?

One in four adolescence who play sports will be affected by OSD at some point in their childhood. Traditionally, boys are more affected but the incidence in girls is growing as more and more are participating in sports. It is commonly seen in boys around 13-14 years old and in girls around 10-11. More often than not, it occurs right after a growth spurt.

What are the symptoms?

Pain is elicited by ballistic movements including running and jumping although any sports-related activity can as well. Direct pressure on the tibial tubercle will also cause sharp pain. Generally, those affected with OSD will have tight quadriceps and hamstrings which applies abnormal pulling forces on the knees.

How do we test/diagnose?

A thorough exam at podiatrist’s office will help make the diagnosis. There, your child will be asked about their habits and activity level. Applying pressure to the problematic area often provides the diagnosis. Additional imaging and having your child go through certain motions will help rule out other knee issues.

How do we treat? How do we prevent?

OSD normally self resolves with conservative care. A break or reduction in activity, in addition to icing and anti-inflammatory medication, is the first line of treatment. 90% of people get better within a year with no long term problems. To prevent future occurrences, it is recommended that the patient undergo physical therapy that concentrates on stretching the thigh muscles. Custom orthotics can be useful to correct any foot problems by keeping it in alignment with the leg which may otherwise cause problems to travel up to the knee.

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