Understanding Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease | Knee Pain

Osgood-Schlatter’s disease is a common cause of knee pain in growing children and adolescents. It is an inflammation of the tendon connecting the kneecap (patellar tendon) to the shin bone (tibia), at a spot called the tibial tuberosity. It occurs most frequently in active children, particularly those who play sports involving running or jumping. Usually, only one knee is affected, but in some cases, both knees may be symptomatic. These symptoms include knee pain, swelling and tight thigh muscles.

Knee pain in children is likely to be caused by Osgood-Schlatter's Disease. | Family Podiatry Centre | Best Foot Doctor Podiatrist DPM Clinic Singapore Malaysia

What causes Osgood-Schlatter's Disease?

Like Sever’s disease, a common cause of heel pain in growing children, this condition stems from the growth plates or epiphyseal plates. These are cartilage-based structures located at the ends of bones in young children. 

For the knee, the growth plates are only replaced by solid bone when the child turns approximately 15 years old, leaving them vulnerable to knee conditions. As the child grows older, they also become more vulnerable to the condition, until their bones fully mature.

During activity, the quadriceps (front of thigh) muscle pulls on the tendon connecting to the kneecap, which in turn pulls on the tibial tuberosity. Repetitive motions such as running and jumping stress the area, causing knee pain and inflammation.

Best Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter's Disease

Thankfully, Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease isn’t necessarily difficult to treat.

  • As it may arise due to a Vitamin D deficiency, supplementing the child’s diet with more of it can relieve the symptoms entirely.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines e.g ibuprofen may also be taken to reduce the swelling.
  • Physical aids such as elastic or neoprene sleeves for the knees may be used to limit movement.
    • Strenuous activity worsens the symptoms.
  • The child may have to do physiotherapy exercises for the leg and thighs in some cases.

However, the condition can be tough to diagnose since it might be mistaken for simple exhaustion, and just resting may not be sufficient to address it. If the pain and swelling continues even after your child takes a rest from physical exercises, we recommend visiting a podiatrist to see if there may be more going on under the surface.

Written by Kardem Kiter
Written by Kardem Kiter

Based in Singapore, Degree in Podiatric Medicine from the University of Johannesburg. Published in The Foot and member of The Golden Key Honour Society.

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