Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition that causes knee pain in some children during their adolescent growth spurt.
Danny's 12th birthday marked the beginning of soccer season, a four-inch growth spurt, and a lot of pain in his right knee. When Danny's coach asked him why he was limping, Danny told him that his knee hurt, especially when climbing stairs, kneeling, or jumping. His coach called his parents and suggested they take Danny to the doctor.
Danny's doctor examined the tender, swollen knee. When she gently pressed the area just below the kneecap, Danny grimaced in pain. The results from the rest of the examination were normal. Danny was diagnosed as having Osgood-Schlatter (OZ-good SHLAT-er) disease.
This diagnosis scared Danny at first, but quickly the doctor eased his mind by explaining that Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition in adolescents that almost always goes away on its own. It was named for an American surgeon, Robert Bayley Osgood (1873–1956), and a Swiss surgeon, Carl Schlatter (1864–1934), which explains the long, serious-sounding name.
Osgood-Schlatter disease refers to pain that occurs at the bump on the shinbone, or tibia (TIB-e-a), just below the knee. At this spot, a tendon * from the muscles of the thigh attaches to the shin after passing over the kneecap. Sometimes, especially during the adolescent growth spurt, the place where the shinbone is actively growing partially detaches from the rest of the bone, resulting in pain and swelling. This problem most often occurs in children between the ages of 10 and 15, especially those who are active in sports, and it affects more boys than girls.
Osgood-Schlatter disease usually goes away after the growth spurt ends. To treat the symptoms, doctors suggest taking over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen * or acetaminophen * , stretching well before exercising, and cutting back on sports that require contraction of the quadriceps (KWOD-ri-seps) muscle of the thigh, such as squat thrusts or running. Some doctors put a cast on the leg to limit a child's activity. Continuing to play sports usually does not make the condition worse, but it can delay the healing process. In a few cases, the problem does not go away on its own because abnormal bony structures form or small pieces of bone become detached. In these cases, surgery may be required to remove the bone fragments.
See also Knee Injuries: Overview
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American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 9400 West Higgins Rd., Rosemont, IL 60018. Telephone: 847-823-7186. Website: http://www.aaos.org (accessed November 22, 2015).
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National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 1 AMS Circle, Bethesda, MD 20892. Toll-free: 877-226-4267. Website: http://www.niams.nih.gov (accessed October 26, 2015).
National Organization for Rare Disorders. 55 Kenosia Ave., Danbury, CT 06810. Telephone: 203-744-0100. Website: http://rarediseases.org (accessed November 16, 2015).
* tendon (TEN-don) is a fibrous cord of connective tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone or other structure.
* ibuprofen (eye-bew-PRO-fin) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to reduce fever and relieve pain or inflammation.
* acetaminophen (uh-see-the-MIH-noh-fen) is a medication commonly used to reduce fever and relieve pain.