UW Health's Sports Medicine doctors in Madison, Wisconsin, treat a wide range of common athletic injuries, including Osgood-Schlatter Disease, or pain in the knee that usually occurs in teenagers.
Osgood-Schlatter Disease Symptoms
Osgood-Schlatter Disease is a common condition in the knee and lower leg that affects adolescent athletes between the ages of 11 and 15 with younger onset in girls than boys. Individuals with this condition typically play sports and also experience a rapid growth spurt prior to the onset of symptoms. Both knees are affected about 25 percent of the time.
The symptoms of this condition include pain and swelling at the tibial tuberosity, which is located on the front of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee. The patellar tendon attaches the quadriceps (large muscle group located on the front of the upper leg or thigh) to this bump or tuberosity. In the adolescent, the tuberosity does not yet have a bony attachment to the rest of the tibia. Repetitive force or stress can occur during sports or other activities and cause bone fragments to separate due to weakness of the bone.
Activities such as climbing stairs, running, jumping and deep knee bends involve the quadriceps and therefore put strain on the tuberosity, causing more pain.
Swelling often occurs below the kneecap and the bony bump (or tuberosity) at the top of the shin bone may become enlarged. The area is tender when direct pressure is applied, and extending the knee against resistance or kneeling on the area causes pain.
The goal of treatment is to decrease stress and inflammation at the tibial tuberosity.
- Rest from activity or any decrease in athletic activity (especially jumping) will help.
- Anti-inflammatory medications as recommended by a physician can relieve mild pain with activity.
- Applying ice to the area for 10 to 20 minutes after activity is often helpful.
- Occasionally, it is necessary to rest the knee completely with a knee immobilizer.
This condition may recur over a period of months or years but usually stops at or before age eighteen or when the tuberosity fuses to the tibia and growth is nearly complete. It is highly unlikely to cause any permanent injury except for a bump over the tuberosity. With conservative treatment, most young athletes can continue to participate in sports activities and learn to control their symptoms. Focused rehabilitation with a physical therapist or a licensed athletic trainer will include strengthening and correcting any areas of weakness or strength imbalances.