Most often seen in adolescents, Osgood-Schlatter's disease is an overuse injury that causes pain and swelling around and below the knee. In most cases, symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter's disease are relieved through a combination of conservative treatment options; however, surgery may be necessary if pain symptoms persist.
Causes and Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter's Disease
Osgood-Schlatter's disease is an overuse injury to the growth plate of the tibial tubercle just below the knee. It is commonly seen in growing, active adolescents between the ages of 11 and 15 years, and often coincides with growth spurts.
Osgood-Schlatter's disease is caused by the increased tension and pressure applied to the tibia during activities like running and jumping. The repetitive stresses of these activities can produce inflammation where the tendon attaches to bone. In addition, the tightening of the quadriceps muscles can place increased pressure on the patellar attachment. In addition to the muscle tightness common during a growth spurt, patients suffering from Osgood-Schlatter's disease will also often experience pain and swelling at the tibial tuberosity.
In order to identify Osgood-Schlatter's disease, the pediatric orthopaedic surgeon will consider the severity and locations of symptoms, clinical examination results, and x-rays.
Osgood-Schlatter's Disease Treatment Options
Osgood-Schlatter's disease is often treated with a combination of non-invasive treatments, including:
- Anti-inflammatory medication as directed by the doctor
- Applying ice to the knee
- Quadriceps and hamstring stretches to help with tight muscles
- Wearing of a knee strap to relieve tension on the patellar tendon
- Activity modifications
Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter's disease will generally resolve over time with the use of conservative treatments. Usually Osgood-Schlatter's disease does not cause permanent damage; however, this condition sometimes leads to excess bone growth and produces a visible bump where the tendon attaches to the bone. Surgical excision of this bump is sometimes required for persistent pain after growth is complete.
Anti-Inflammatory Medications and the Application of Ice for Treating Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter's Disease
The taking of anti-inflammatory medicine or NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as Motrin, Advil, Naproxen, or Aleve (as directed by your doctor) can be effective for relieving symptoms. This medication should be taken for 10 to 14 days to allow the medicine to build to therapeutic levels in the body. Taking the medication infrequently allows the medicine levels to drop, which decreases effectiveness.
In addition, ice packs or ice massage can be applied to the knee immediately after a workout for 15-20 minutes. This can be repeated every 60-90 minutes, several times a day. An ice massage is performed by filling several paper cups with water and placing them in a freezer. When frozen, the cup’s rim is torn off and the ice is then directly applied to the sore area until the area becomes numb.
Osgood-Schlatter's Disease in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida
Dr. Drew Warnick and Dr. Paul Benfanti are board-certified sports medicine specialists at Children's Orthopaedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates, renowned for their high quality care in the treatment of pediatric sports injuries. To learn more about Children’s Orthopaedic's sports medicine specialties, schedule an appointment at one their four Tampa Area offices.