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