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Osgood-Schlatter Disease (knee pain)

Osgood-Schlatter is a very common injury that typically is found in young people aged 10-14 years old. The disease can cause a painful bony prominence that arises on the shin-bone just below the knee. It normally occurs in adolescence particularly during a growth spurt during puberty. This injury occurs due to changes in the body in tendons, muscles and bones due to growth or activity level. Most often this disease is found in those who participate in high intensity activities such as running, jumping and changes of direction. Those who play basketball, soccer or rugby are also at risk of developing this injury.

What causes the injury?

Activities that involve running, jumping and fast changes of direction such as football and basketball. During these sports and others the thigh muscles (Quadriceps) cause tension in the tendon that connects the kneecap to the growth plate located at the top of the shin bone. The repeated stress of the knee bending during running is what causes the tension through the tendon. This causes strain over the growth plate site and attachment point for the tendon which results in swelling and pain that is associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease, in some cases the body tries to heal itself with new bone growth where there is often a lump formed.

Symptoms

Movements that provoke pain typically are jumping, change of direction, running and other sports related activities.

  • Knee pain below the knee cap at the top of the shin.
  • Swelling and tenderness around the top of the shin bone below the knee cap.
  • Tight muscles in the front and back of the thigh

The condition is normally only on one side although in some cases if can affect both knees, the discomfort can last from weeks to months depending on severity and injury management. You should call your child’s doctor when knee pain interferes with their ability to complete day to day activities. Also seek medical attention if the knee is swollen or red and associated with clicking or locking.

Risk factors associated

The main risk factors for Osgood-Schlatter are as follows

Flexibility

  • Tightness in quadriceps, these muscles can increase the pull and tension being put through the tendon therefore causing stress on the growth plate

Sports

  • Sports related movements are also known to cause the disease especially sports with running and change of direction.

Gender

  • Osgood-Schlatter is more common in boys although the gender gap is narrowing as more girls become increasingly involved with intensive sports.

Age

  • Age is the main risk factor for this disease. Age ranges differ slightly between boys and girls because of the age where they enter puberty this is when the injury typically occurs. In boys its normally around ages12-14 and in girls ages 10 to 13.

Most symptoms will completely disappear when a child completes the adolescent growth spurt. For this reason, normally surgery is not required however the bony prominence present may still remain unless surgically removed although this will not cause pain.

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