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Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Introduction

Osgood-Schlatter Disease is actually a type of overuse injury and not a disease.  It affects the knees of growing children and adolescents who play sports that involve running or jumping.  The main symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter Disease are pain and swelling.

Anatomy

The knee is composed of three bones.  The thighbone (femur), sits on the larger leg bone (tibia).  The kneecap (patella) glides in a groove on the end of the femur.  Osgood-Schlatter Disease affects the tendon below the attachment site of the patella tendon located on the tibia.

Causes

The exact cause of Osgood-Schlatter Disease is unknown, but researchers suspect it results from a series of microfractures over time.  Osgood-Schlatter Disease develops in growing children between the ages of 10 and 15 who participate in sports that involve running or jumping.  It is more common among boys than girls.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter Disease are pain, swelling, and tenderness in the area below the kneecap.  The pain may increase when the knee is bent.

Diagnosis

An orthopedic doctor can diagnose Osgood-Schlatter Disease by reviewing your child’s medical history and examining the knee.  You should tell your doctor about sports or activities which your child participates in that involve repetitive running or jumping.  X-rays will be ordered to rule out other causes of pain.

Treatment

Most cases of Osgood-Schlatter Disease improve with rest, ice, and non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications.  Physical therapy can help a child with this condition by teaching the patient exercises that can help to improve flexibility and mobility.  In rare cases, crutches and a cast or brace is used for about six to eight weeks.  In the majority of patients, Osgood-Schlatter Disease improves in a few weeks or months.  The condition eventually goes away once a child has finished growing.  Osgood-Schlatter Disease improves faster if activities are minimal.

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