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Osgood-Schlatter disease causes a painful, bony bump below the knee on the shinbone. Children and adolescents that are still going through growth spurts during puberty are the primary candidates for this disease. This painful occurrence happens mostly in children who are involved in sports that entail running, jumping, and changing direction quickly like soccer, basketball, figure skating, or ballet.

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The Disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease also referred to as OSD, is an inflammation of bone, cartilage, and tendon at the top of the shinbone. This swelling happens where the muscle from the kneecap is attached. It's not a disease, but an injury that occurs when overused. OSD is one of the most common causes of knee pain in adolescents. It tends to be quite painful but usually goes away within 12 to 24 months. Often, just one knee is affected.

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Causes

When kids take part in activities that entail running, jumping, or bending, the thigh muscles pull on the tendon that connects the kneecap to the growth plate. When this activity is repetitive, it can cause the tendon to pull on the growth plate where the muscle inserts into the shinbone. As a result, pain and swelling occur with Osgood-Schlatter disease. Some children's bodies try to close that gap with new bone development and can cause a bony lump in that location.

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Risk Factors

Some risks can make you more prone to OSD. Age is one of them. Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs during puberty growth spurts. Age ranges are different for each sex because girls enter puberty earlier in life than do boys. OSD usually effects boys ages 12 to 14 and girls ages 10 to 13. Gender can also be a factor. OSD is more common in boys, but the gender gap is narrowing as more girls become active with sports.   If you play sports, you might develop OSD. The condition usually occurs with athletic children who play games that entail running, jumping, and swift changes in direction. Your range of flexibility is a factor, too, because tightness in the quadriceps muscles can pull more on the tendon, which is located on the growth plate at the top of the shinbone.

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Symptoms of OSD

Many parents contact a medical provider when their child complains of knee pain over several weeks or months. The pain ranges; it can be mild and felt only during activity to severe and constant.   Other symptoms may include pain that hurts worse with exercise along with swelling or tenderness under the knee and over the shinbone. You might feel relief from pain when resting. Limping when finished exercising and tightness of the muscles around the knee are also symptoms.   Signs that aren’t distinctive of OSD include pain at rest, thigh pain, or very harsh pain that awakens children from sleeping or makes them cry. If your child has any of these symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.

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Treatment

When the bones stop growing, OSD goes away, usually when a teen is between 14 and 18 years old. Until then, only the symptoms need treatment. Rest most vital element to relieve the pain. The more active kids who are likely to get OSD, and they need many reminders to rest.   In less severe cases, doctors suggest children limit their activities. When symptoms flare up, a break from sports may be required. Crutches may be necessary, so the child stays off the knee for it to heal.   More severe cases need a complete break from physical activities. Active kids may have difficulty, but the knee can't heal without rest. Some people end up with a cast or brace to implement the doctor's orders.   After a long time off, kids need to ease back into activity carefully, usually with some physical therapy to gain knowledge of stretching and strengthening exercises.

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Complications

Frequently complications of Osgood-Schlatter disease are uncommon. If complications occur, they may include chronic pain or localized swelling in some regions of the injury.   After symptoms have healed, a bony bump could stay behind on the shinbone just below the kneecap. This bump can persist to some degree throughout your child's life, but it doesn't typically affect the knee function. In rare cases, Osgood-Schlatter disease can cause the growth plate to be pulled away from the shinbone.

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The Option of Surgery

In most cases, surgery is not required. The reason is that the cartilage growth plate sooner or later stops its growth and fills in with the bone when the child stops growing. The bone is stronger than cartilage and less prone to irritation. The pain and swelling stop, because there is no new growth plate to be injured. Pain linked to OSD almost always ends when the child stops growing.   In rare cases, the pain continues after the bones have stopped growing. Surgery is necessary only if there are bone fragments that did not heal. An operation is never done on a growing athlete since the growth plate can be damaged.   If pain and swelling continue after the treatment, the athlete should be re-examined by a doctor on a regular basis. If the swelling continues to increase, you should get a second opinion.

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At-Home Remedies

When your child gets back in the game, these are some things that can help. Shock-absorbent insoles can decrease stress on the knee. You should apply heat for 15 minutes before or icing for 20 minutes after any activity can minimize the swelling. Wrestling gel pads and basketball kneepads can protect a tender shin from bumps and bruises.   Stretching, focusing on the hamstring and quadriceps muscles, before and after activity can also help. Over-the-counter pain medicines or prescription anti-inflammatory medicines might be necessary.   Long-term effects of OSD are generally minor. Some kids may have a permanent bump below the knee that doesn’t hurt. In rare cases, they may develop a painful bony growth below the kneecap that must be surgically detached. Adults, who had OSD as kids, will sometimes have some pain with kneeling.

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Adults and OSD

The good news is that OSD usually goes away after you’ve stopped growing. Growing stops between 14 and 18 years old. Therefore, this disease is rare among adults. Luckily, adults with Osgood-Schlatter disease on average only have one affected knee and don’t experience too much pain.   If you have OSD as an adult, it is likely you had it as a child. Someone is more apt to keep getting it as an adult if he or she had it when younger. In fact, about 10% of patients with Osgood-Schlatters continue to experience some symptoms into adulthood. Similar to kids, adults can also get this disease if they participate in recurring physical activities and sports.

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Stretches Help OSD

You need to stretch your muscles before and after you take part in physically exerting actions. This precautionary step is an essential part of OSD treatment for adults and children.   Physical therapy exercises help to build up your quadriceps and hamstring muscles; this helps reduce tension where your patella tendon attaches to your shin. It can also help to stabilize your knee joint. Make sure to stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings, and iliotibial band.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.