What is Osgood-Schlatter Disease?

The knee is the largest and one of the most complex joints in the human body. Boney structures of the knee consist of the patella (knee cap), Femur (thigh bone), Tibia and Fibula (lower leg bones). Muscles and tendons provide the motion of the joint. The patellar tendon inserts onto the tibial tubercle (upper portion of your shin). This tendon promotes knee extension – straightening of the knee.

Osgood-Schlatter disease is an overuse injury that occurs in the knee area of growing adolescents. It is due to growth plate apoptosis. Apophysitis is an overuse injury unique to the skeletally immature athlete and comprises a significant proportion of musculoskeletal complaints in this population. The apophysis is a secondary ossification center that serves as the attachment site for a muscle-tendon unit. Young adolescents who participate in certain sports, including soccer, gymnastics, basketball, and distance running, are most at risk for this disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms most commonly are associated with a dull ache overlying the anterior or front of the knee. Typically begins gradually and as activity continues or if left untreated symptoms worsen. As symptoms worsen, the dull ache becomes sharp. Symptoms can become debilitating especially with running, climbing, squatting, jumping and lunging. Additionally, bouts of instability may occur from pain and weakness and generalized knee swelling. Osgood-Schlatter symptoms may last for 2 to 3 years. However, most symptoms will completely disappear with the completion of the adolescent growth spurt, around age 14 for girls and age 16 for boys.

Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter

Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter is always treated conservatively and never requires surgery. Treatment is aimed at reducing the pain and swelling. Treatments include rest, ice, compression, anti-inflammatory medications, occasionally wrapping of the knee for comfort, decrease or change of activity level, physical therapy/home exercise program consisting of strengthening and stretching.