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Osgood-Schlatter Disease (Knee Pain)

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.  The vast majority of youth with Osgood-Schlatter Disease are treated successfully with non-surgical methods, and the condition rarely causes permanent orthopedic problems.

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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 (anterior tibial tubercle).

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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. 

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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. 

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

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Treatment
Most cases of Osgood-Schlatter Disease improve with rest, ice, and non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS).  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.  Individuals should be allowed to play sports as long as they do not have symptoms. Osgood-Schlatter Disease improves faster if activities are minimal.

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Surgery
It is very rare for Osgood-Schlatter Disease to require surgery.  A tibial sequestrectomy is used to remove structures on the knee (bursa, ossicle, prominence).  However, surgery on a growing bone is controversial.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.