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Understanding Osgood-Schlatter Disease : Epidemiology, Treatment, and Care

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition that results in knee pain and pain in the upper shin and is mainly experienced by growing children and young teenagers. It is sometimes also called “jumper’s knee” and growing pains. More about this condition can be discovered from the following array of the article.

What is Osgood Schlatter Disease?

Osgood Schlatter disease is a condition that most often develops during growth spurts. It is a common cause of knee pain experienced by growing children or adolescents and is characterized by inflammation in the area right below the knee. This is the area where the tendon from the kneecap is attached to the tibia or the shinbone.

Osgood-Schlatter disease happens when the patellar tendon (a tendon in the knee) pulls against the top of the shinbone or the tibia. This results in pain in the knee and the upper shin. The patellar tendon pulls on an area of the tibia or shinbone where new bone is forming, known as the growth plate. This pulling results in pain and inflammation. Being weaker, this growth plate is more prone to injury than other parts of the bone. Thus, during physical activity or overuse, the growth plate becomes irritated and results in a painful lump below the kneecap. It is the main sign of Osgood-Schlatter disease.

In most cases, the disease can be effectively treated with simple measures like rest and over-the-counter medications.

Epidemiology of Osgood Schlatter Disease

The disease is pretty common and is the most common cause of knee pain in teenagers or growing children. The onset of the disease coincides with adolescent growth spurts between ages eight to thirteen years for girls and ten to fifteen years for boys. This condition is most common in boys. Teenage athletes who play sports that involve a lot of running and jumping are more likely to develop Osgood-Schlatter disease. In adolescents, in the age group of twelve years to fifteen years, the prevalence of the disease is 9.8% (8.3% in girls and 11/4% in boys). Symptoms present bilaterally in 20% to 30% of patients.(1, 2)

How is Osgood Schlatter Disease Treated?

Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease primarily focuses on reducing swelling and pain. This requires rest or limiting physical activity until there is no pain or discomfort experienced while performing the activity. In certain cases, rest from exercise or physical activity is essential for several months, followed by a strength conditioning program. However, if there is no large amount of pain then it might be safe to continue with the activity.

Some additional treatment methods that might be prescribed by the doctor include:

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises for the front and back of the thigh or the quadriceps and hamstring muscles can help relieve pain and prevent the Osgood-Schlatter disease from returning.

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can be used to reduce pain and swelling in the case of Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Using Patellar Tendon Strap

Some doctors recommend using a patellar tendon strap (a kind of brace) to get relief from the signs of Osgood-Schlatter disease. This thin patellar tendon strap fits perfectly around the knee under the kneecap and offers great relief from stress on the patellar tendon.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps in relieving symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease. Your physical therapist would provide specific exercises during the physical therapy sessions.

Using Ice

Using ice on the inflamed area can reduce pain and swelling caused due to Osgood-Schlatter disease. Using cold packs over the inflamed area for at least twenty minutes at a time, several times a day can be quite helpful. However, make sure not to apply ice directly to the skin.

Prognosis of Osgood-Schlatter Disease

The prognosis of the disease is excellent. Although the disease is self-limiting, time to resolution can take months. In about 10% of patients, the symptoms might continue into their adulthood, and this happens when the affected person does not seek treatment. Some cases report that the pain in Osgood-Schlatter disease lasts for several years.(3)

When Should You See a Doctor?

If your child experiences knee pain, generally after playing sports or running, you should see a doctor and get your child examined by their doctor.

Final Words

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a minor condition that causes knee pain, especially in athletic teenagers or adolescents. Getting a proper diagnosis, rest, and effective treatment can help prevent complications in Osgood-Schlatter disease. So, if your teenager is experiencing pain in their knees then schedule an appointment with their doctor, and stick to their treatment methods if they are diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disease.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 20, 2023

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