Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition in which there is painful swelling of the bump (anterior tibial tubercle) on the upper part of the shin bone, below the knee. It is the most common cause of knee pain in young athletes.
During any sports activity stress is created on the growth plate. Growth plate is a cartilage layer at the end of bone where the bone growth occurs. This growth plate is weak and is susceptible to injury than the other parts of the bone.It most commonly affects boys during their rapid growth period when they are in their teenage. This disease affects children participating in sports activities such as football, gymnastics, basketball, and distance running. It affects girls between the age group of 10 to 11 years and boys between 13 and14 years.
The most commonly observed symptoms include
- Painful swelling in the lower leg
- Pain which gets worse on jumping, running, using stairs
- Tenderness below the knee cap
- Stiffness of surrounding the knee muscles (quadriceps and hamstring)
Your doctor will perform physical examination and follows the other tests:
- X-ray to rule out other causes for pain
- CT scan shows images of tendon enlargement and focal decreased attenuation at the tendon on the tibia in the active stage of the disease
- MRI scan shows the intensity of the tendon at the injured site. Deep and superficial patellar bursae and marrow edema in the tibia tubercle can be seen
- Ultrasonography shows images of the soft tissue swelling around the anterior tibia tubercle and thickening of the distal patellar tendon
The immediate treatment when your child experiences severe pain includes the following
- Treatment with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation)
Rest (R): Your child needs to take rest so that the injury heals properly. Ensure that weight bearing exercises is avoided.
Ice (I): It is also known as cold therapy. Applying ice on the knee will reduce pain and inflammation. It can be applied three times a day on the knee.
Compression (C): Compress the knee with an elastic bandage which helps to keep the muscles intact and relieves pain.
Elevation (E): Your child's leg should be kept on an elevated level to reduce further inflammation as the blood flow will be reduced
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and swelling
- Cast or a brace may be recommended to immobilize the leg. Crutches are used to help your child walk without putting weight on the leg
The symptoms will disappear once your child grows completely and reaches the age of 15 to 16 years. Your doctor may suggest to perform regular stretching or strengthening exercises which can be practiced at home. These exercises will strengthen the quadriceps muscles.