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Osgood-Schlatter Disease: About Adolescent Knee Pain

Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO

Growing up isn’t easy, and Osgood-Schlatter disease doesn’t make the process any easier for adolescents – especially those who love to participate in sports that involve running and jumping. While Osgood-Schlatter may sound like a rare and complex disease, it’s actually quite common. Even better, it typically resolves on its own with little or no medical intervention. However, some cases are more severe than others and could require medical intervention.

What is Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is the inflammation of the area where the kneecap tendon meets the top of the shinbone. Located just below the knee, this area can become inflamed during growth spurts – especially among adolescents who are active in running and jumping sports.

What are the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling and tenderness just below the knee
  • Tightness in the thigh (front or back)
  • Knee pain

Osgood-Schlatter disease typically occurs in one knee, though it’s possible for both knees to be affected. The severity of symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. Some may experience debilitating knee pain, while others may find the tenderness and swelling little more than an annoyance. The good news is, symptoms of this disease usually resolve once the patient exits a growth spurt or stops growing altogether.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease diagnosed?

If your child or teenager’s knee pain is preventing him or her from participating in sports or other activities, you may wish to see a health care provider for an evaluation and diagnosis. During an evaluation, the health care provider may check the knee for tenderness, swelling and pain. An x-ray may be helpful for examining the bones and pinpointing the area where the shinbone and kneecap tendon connect. X-rays can also be helpful for ruling out other conditions.

Treating Adolescent Knee Pain

While adolescent knee pain typically goes away after a growth spurt, some cases may require intervention. A sports medicine provider may be able to help by:

  • Managing pain and swelling
  • Providing exercise recommendations
  • Providing a strength training program

Conservative therapies for adolescent knee pain include stretching the quadriceps and hamstring muscles (This reduces tension.) and taking an NSAID for pain and swelling.

Schedule With a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor

For more information about Osgood-Schlatter disease and your treatment options, schedule an appointment with a Houston sports medicine provider by contacting Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. Call (713) 756-5546 or schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.