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Osgood-Schlatter disease (osteochondrosis of the tibial tuberosity)


Disease: Osgood-Schlatter disease (osteochondrosis of the tibial tuberosity) Osgood-Schlatter disease (osteochondrosis of the tibial tuberosity)
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases

Disease Definition:

In children experiencing growth spurts during puberty, Osgood-Schlatter disease causes a painful lump below the kneecap. Children that participate in sports that involve jumping, swift changes of direction and running, such as in ballet, football, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, figure skating and soccer, are the ones that usually develop this disease. Even though this disease is more common in boys, but as more girls are becoming involved with sports, the gender gap is narrowing. As many as one if five adolescent athletes are affected by this disease.


Since girls experience puberty earlier than boys do, the age range of this disease differs. Osgood-Schlatter disease commonly happens in boys ages 13 to 14 and girls ages 11 to 12. Usually, once the child’s bones stop growing, the condition goes away on its own.

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Symptoms, Causes


Osgood-Shlatter disease may cause some of these signs and symptoms:


  • Knee pain that improves with rest, but gets worse with activity, specifically climbing stairs, jumping and running.
  • Tightness of the surrounding muscles, particularly the thigh muscles called quadriceps
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling at the bony prominence on the upper shinbone, just below the kneecap.


The pain differs from a person to another. While some people may experience nearly constant and debilitating pain, yet others may have only mild pain when performing certain activities, particularly jumping and running. Osgood-Schlatter disease often takes place in one knee, but it may also occur in both knees. The discomfort could linger as long as weeks, even months and might recur until the child has stopped growing.


A growth plate made of cartilage is found at the end of each of the long bones of a child’s arms and legs. The cartilage may become swollen and painful due to stress on the growth plate because the cartilage isn’t as strong as bone.


The child’s thigh muscles (quadriceps) pull on the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone throughout activities involving too much running, bending and jumping as is the case in soccer, ballet, volleyball and basketball. The pain and swelling that occur with Osgood-Schlatter disease are usually the result of repeated stress that causes the tendon to pull a little away from the shinbone. Sometimes, a bony lump may develop at the affected spot in case the child’s body tries to close that gap with new bone growth.



Chronic pain and localized swelling are some of the uncommon complications of Osgood-Schlatter disease. They usually go away with anti-inflammatory medications and icing.


A bony lump might persist on the shinbone in the area of the swelling, even after symptoms go away. This lump might remain to some degree during the child’s life, but it often doesn’t interfere with the function of the knee.


Osgood-Schlatter disease often goes away on its own without needing any formal treatment. Usually, after the child’s bones stop growing, symptoms fade away. Until then, physical therapy and mild pain relievers may be recommended. 



Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are two over-the-counter pain relievers that could help. 



To reduce the tension on the spot where the tendon of the kneecap attaches to the shinbone, the child may be taught exercises to stretch the quadriceps and hamstrings of the thigh. Additionally, to help stabilize the knee joint, strengthening exercises for the quadriceps can be performed.


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