Osgood-Schlatters is characterized pain, tenderness, and swelling on the tibial tuberosity, or on the shin bone just below the knee cap. The pain may be mild after activity or in some cases can be severe enough to occur during all activity. It occurs in activities that require jumping, running, squatting, or lifting. It is most common in athletic children between ages of 10 to 14.
The patella tendon attaches to the tibial tuberosity. The strong quadriceps muscle pulls on this area to extend the lower leg during running, jumping, or squatting. The tibial tuberosity has a growth plate in this area.
Bone grows by forming a cartilage growth plates. The cartilage growth plates are not as strong as normal bone. The forces caused by repetitive running and jumping pull the tendon, causing it to separate. This produces inflammation, tenderness, and swelling. This is very common during a child's growth spurts, and does occur in both knees simultaneously. In very rare situations, the bone can be pulled apart.
Rest and ice are the first steps that should be taken at home. Modifying or stopping activities for a short period of time will allow the area to heal. Stretching tight quadriceps or hamstring muscle will help to decrease stress and irritation. Braces are available to decrease the stress caused by the pulling quadriceps muscle.
The bump on the tibia will continue after the area has healed. The bone may look slightly different than the other knee, but it will not change knee function or cause future knee injuries.
If pain persists after rest and ice, seek a provider to evaluate the Osgood-Schlatters. An X-Ray may be performed to rule out the bone being pulled away from the tibia. Your provider may recommend crutches for a short period of time, until the pain decreases.
Osgood-Schlatter is common and usually resolves without complications. Conservative home treatment involving rest, ice, and modifying activities provide excellent outcomes in short periods of time. The most difficult part may be keeping active kids from resuming full activity too soon.