Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Osgood-Schlatter disease

Definition

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a painful swelling of the bump on the upper part of the shinbone, just below the knee. This bump is called the anterior tibial tubercle.

Alternative Names

Osteochondrosis; Knee pain - Osgood-Schlatter

Causes

Osgood-Schlatter disease is thought to be caused by small injuries to the knee area from overuse before the knee is finished growing.

The quadriceps muscle is a large, strong muscle on the front part of the upper leg. When this muscle squeezes (contracts), it straightens the knee. The quadriceps muscle is an important muscle for running, jumping, and climbing.

When the quadriceps muscle is used a lot in sports activities during a child's growth spurt, this area becomes irritated or swollen and causes pain.

It is common in adolescents who play soccer, basketball, and volleyball, and who participate in gymnastics. Osgood-Schlatter disease affects more boys than girls.

Symptoms

The main symptom is painful swelling over a bump on the lower leg bone (shinbone). Symptoms occur on one or both legs.

You may have leg pain or knee pain, which gets worse with running, jumping, and climbing stairs.

The area is tender to pressure, and swelling ranges from mild to very severe.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider can tell if you have this condition by doing a physical exam.

A bone x-ray may be normal, or it may show swelling or damage to the tibial tubercle. This is a bony bump below the knee. X-rays are rarely used unless the provider wants to rule out other causes of the pain.

Treatment

Osgood-Schlatter disease will almost always go away on its own once the child stops growing.

Treatment includes:

  • Resting the knee and decreasing activity when symptoms develop
  • Putting ice over the painful area 2 to 4 times a day, and after activities
  • Taking Ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or acetaminophen (Tylenol)

In many cases, the condition will get better using these methods.

Adolescents may play sports if the activity does not cause too much pain. However, symptoms will get better faster when activity is limited. Sometimes, a child will need to take a break from most or all sports for 2 or more months.

Rarely, a cast or brace may be used to support the leg until it heals if symptoms do not go away. This most often takes 6 to 8 weeks. Crutches may be used for walking to keep weight off the painful leg.

Surgery may be needed in rare cases.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most cases get better on their own after a few weeks or months. Most cases go away once the child finished growing.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if your child has knee or leg pain, or if pain does not get better with treatment.

Prevention

The small injuries that may cause this disorder often go unnoticed, so prevention may not be possible. Regular stretching, both before and after exercise and athletics, can help prevent injury.

References

Milewski MD, Sweet SJ, Nissen CW, Prokop TK. Knee injuries in skeletally immature athletes. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 135.

Sarkissian EJ, Lawrence JTR. The knee. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 677.

Review Date:12/9/2016
Reviewed By:Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health
Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Read More

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No