What is that bump below my kid’s knee? Osgood-Schlatter Disease

By Rich Dowd OMSII

What is Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is an inflammation of the patellar tendon that causes pain where it inserts on the upper shin bone, just below the knee. It can occur in anyone but is most commonly seen in young athletes age 10-15.

What causes Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter is characterized by increased tension on the patellar tendon, the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shin bone. During adolescence, our bodies go through periods of rapid growth where bone growth typically outpaces the accompanying muscle and tendon growth. This discrepancy may result in a comparatively short quadriceps muscle which subsequently increases tension on the patellar tendon. This increased tension, exacerbated by running and jumping, is what results in the inflammation and pain associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Adolescent age is the primary risk factor but other contributing factors include:

  • Sports that involve lots of running and jumping
  • Lack of quadriceps flexibility
  • Male gender, though females are affected more and more with increased sports participation

What are the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease?

The most commonly presenting symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease include:

  • Knee pain that is worse with activity, better with rest
  • Swelling and tenderness below the kneecap
  • Tender and/or enlarged bony prominence may be observed at the top of the shin bone

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease diagnosed?

Osgood-Schlatter disease may be suspected based on patient’s age, activities, presenting knee pain, and tenderness to palpation below the kneecap. Further workup may include observing the patient walk, run, or jump to see which movements reproduce the pain. Rarely, ultrasound may be used to look for inflammation and x-rays or MRI may be indicated to rule out other pathologies.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease treated?

Generally, Osgood-Schlatter disease responds well to conservative treatment, including:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Stretching
  • Physical therapy
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (such as Ibuprofen) as needed

Surgery is generally only considered in chronic cases after other treatment options have been exhausted.

Fortunately, the typical prognosis for Osgood-Schlatter disease is excellent as most symptoms resolve with conservative treatment. It is very uncommon to have lasting issues beyond adolescence.

If your child is experiencing symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter Disease, schedule an appointment to see one of OrthoNeuro’s orthopedic specialists today! Call 614-890-6555 or click the link below.

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