Osgood-Schlatter Disease (OSD)

Osgood-Schlatter disease at a glance

  • Osgood-Schlatter disease is inflammation of the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shin, frequently seen in adolescents involved in sports.
  • Symptoms include a painful bump below the kneecap and discomfort that increases when the knee is used.
  • Treatment for the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease includes over-the-counter pain medicine, rest, ice, and the use of supportive braces. Talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.

Causes of Osgood-Schlatter disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused by overuse of the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shin. The primary risks factors for developing OSD are age, gender and physical activity.

OSD typically affects younger teens around the beginning of their growth spurts that commonly accompany puberty (ages 11-14). Growth spurts make adolescents more vulnerable because their bones, tendons and muscles are growing quickly and not always at the same time.

While Osgood-Schlatter disease is more common in boys, occurs in young girls is on the rise.

Sports activities that require quick changes in moving direction, running, or jumping such as ballet, soccer, ice skating, or basketball often contribute to the development of Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease

The primary symptom of Osgood-Schlatter disease is a painful, bony lump that appears below the kneecap, on the upper shinbone. Additional symptoms include pain in one or both knees that worsens with movement, and tightness in the thigh muscles (quadriceps).

The severity and tendency of symptoms vary from person to person. Pain may come and go for weeks or months, and may continue until the child stops growing.

Treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease

The symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease typically go away when the child’s bones have finished growing. Over-the-counter pain medication may help relieve the pain, as well as icing the knee and resting.

Children may continue to participate in sports if the physical activity does not cause too much pain. It may be helpful to use supportive braces or straps while exercising or participating in sport activities.

However, symptoms will get better faster when physical activity is limited. Switching to low-impact physical activities, such as swimming or bicycling, can also reduce stress on the knee.

Contact us to schedule an appointment with our sports medicine specialists and learn more about treatment options for Osgood-Schlatter.