What is Osgood Schlatters Disease?
Osgood Schlatters disease is a very common cause of knee pain in children ages 10 to 15 who also participate in sports, especially those that involve running and jumping. The combination of rapid physical growth, the fact that a child’s bones have not yet reached their maximum hardness, along with a lot of sports-related activity can cause a pulling force from the patella tendon to the tibial tuberosity (a bony protrusion at the top of the shin). In most children Osgood Schlatters disease clears up once they stop growing and their tendons strengthen, but infrequently it persists into adulthood.
Symptoms of Osgood Schlatters Disease
Children who have Osgood Schlatters disease experience inflammation, pain, and swelling at the tibial tuberosity just below the knee. The pain and tenderness are worse during and after exercise, and children typically also experience pain when they contract the quadriceps against resistance or when they contract the muscles while they keep the leg straight.
Treatment of Osgood Schlatters Disease
Rest is critical if this injury is going to heal properly. A sports medicine or sports injury professional should be consulted early so he or she can confirm the diagnosis and check to make sure nothing else is causing the pain. Children can exercise only if it does not cause them any pain. Rest and professionally managed exercise are the best way to treat Osgood Schlatters disease.
Ice or cold therapy should be applied to the knee at least three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes per session, and especially after any activity. Massaging the patella tendon and quadriceps using a cold pack can be helpful. If the quad muscles can be stretched without pain, children should do this as well. A knee brace or knee support can help reduce tension on the knee. A sports injury specialist may recommend a patella tendon strap, which wraps around just below the knee and places pressure on the patella tendon, thus reducing the strain on the tibial tuberosity. If the pain is severe, x-rays may be necessary and a cast can be applied for three weeks.