Osgood-Schlatter Disease in Children

What is Osgood-Schlatter disease in children?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is an overuse condition. It’s when the tendon in a knee becomes injured and inflamed. This tendon connects the thigh muscles to the knee and shin bone.

What causes Osgood-Schlatter disease in a child?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused by the constant pulling of the tendon in the knee. It is seen in growing children and teens. This is an age where the bones are typically growing faster than the muscles and tendons. As a result, the muscles and tendons tend to become tight.

Which children are at risk for Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is common in young athletes who play games or sports that involve running, jumping, or going up and down stairs. These include football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, or ballet. It most often affects preteen and teenage boys ages 10 to 15.

What are the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease in a child?

The following are the most common symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. Symptoms may include:

  • Soreness below the knee
  • Swelling below the knee
  • Limping (may worsen following jumping activities)

These symptoms may seem like other health problems of the knee. See your child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease diagnosed in a child?

Your child’s healthcare provider can diagnose Osgood-Schlatter disease with a complete health history and physical exam of your child’s knee. Your child may also need to have an X-ray of the affected knee.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The goal of treatment is to control your child’s knee pain and prevent the condition from worsening. Treatment may include:

  • RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation)
  • Medicines such as anti-inflammatories for discomfort and swelling
  • Elastic wrap, padding, or a neoprene sleeve around the knee
  • Limits on activity
  • Physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the thigh and leg muscles

Osgood-Schlatter disease often goes away over time. In rare cases, your child may need surgery.

How can I help prevent Osgood-Schlatter disease in my child?

Your child can develop Osgood-Schlatter disease again. To prevent that from happening, have your child:

  • Do exercises to strengthen the thigh and leg muscles. Your child’s healthcare provider may recommend certain exercises or physical therapy.
  • Ice the knee area after being active. It can ease pain and swelling. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

Key points about Osgood-Schlatter disease in children

  • Osgood-Schlatter disease is an overuse condition that affects the tendons in the knee.
  • Growing children who are active in sports are most at risk for this disease. It’s common in children who participate in football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, or ballet.
  • Pain and swelling in the knee area are the main symptoms.
  • Treatment includes RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) of the affected knee.
  • Your child may also have to limit certain activities, such as running.
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