Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition that often result to a painful lump that grows just below the kneecap.
The disease usually occurs in children and teenagers. Children who do sports that involve jumping, running, and quick direction changes are more prone to the disease.
Osgood-Schlatter disease mostly affects boys, but since girls are becoming more active in sports nowadays, the gender gap is becoming narrower. The age range, however, differs by sex as the puberty in girls is earlier than with boys.
Pain is the main symptom of Osgood-Schlatter disease and it differs in severity from person to person. For some, the pain can only be mild and occurs only when doing certain activities, such as jumping and running. For others, however, the pain can be more frequent and severe. The condition typically affects just one knee, but in some cases, both knees can be affected.
The pain and discomfort may diminish after a few weeks or months; and may continue recurring until the child has stopped growing. If the pain is interfering with the child’s daily activities, see a doctor at once.
You may also want to visit your doctor if the pain is associated with swelling or redness around the knee area, or comes with fever, and when the knee joint locks or is instable.
Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused when the quadriceps or thigh muscles pull on the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone.
This typically occurs during sports activities, such as basketball, soccer, and ballet.
The repeated jumping, running, and bending involved in these activities are the most common causes of this condition. In rare cases, the disease is a result of a new bone growth.
4 Making a Diagnosis
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in sports medicine and knee injuries to receive a diagnosis of Osgood-Schlatter disease. When visiting the doctor, you might want to make a list beforehand. Doing this will help maximize your time and get the most out of your doctor’s appointment. A written list with the following may help:
The symptoms, in full details
Medical history of the child and family
Medications, supplements, and vitamins the child is taking
Questions you might want to ask the doctor
The doctor may ask you some questions and is likely to perform a physical exam. The physical examination will help the doctor diagnose the child’s condition. It involves checking the affected area for pain, redness, swelling and tenderness. X-rays may also be requested to closely examine the bones on the affected area.
The symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter usually gets better after the child’s bones have stopped growing and without any treatment. However, to alleviate the pain, mild pain relievers may be prescribed. Physical therapy may also be one for quicker improvement.
Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen are the common over-the-counter pain medicines usually prescribed to children with Osgood-Schlatter disease.
In order to decrease the tension on the affected area, physical therapy may be done. The therapist can help your child with the proper exercises that stretch hamstring and quadriceps muscles. In addition, strengthening exercises may be done to stabilize the joints of the knees.
6 Lifestyle and Coping
To help the child cope up with the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease, you may advise your child to do the following:
Rest the joint. When training for sports or doing other activities, remind the child to take a rest once in a while. Also, limit the movements that can aggravate the symptoms.
Apply ice packs. Applying cold compress to the affected area can help ease the pain and minimize swelling.
Stretch leg muscles. Seek the help of a physical therapist to know the proper way of stretching the quadriceps.
Protect the knee. When doing sports activities, tell your child to wear protective pad on the affected knee to help minimize the impact.
Use a tendon strap. Using a patellar tendon strap can keep the tendon in place and take most of the force away from the shinbone. A patellar strap is a strap that is fitted around the lower leg.
Cross-train. While the symptoms are present, suggest switching activities that do not involve high-impact movements. Swimming and cycling are examples of low-impact sports.
7 Risks and Complications
Osgood-Schlatter disease has several risk factors. These include:
Age. The disease is common during growth spurts at puberty. Because girls get into puberty earlier than the boys, the age ranges are different. In girls, Osgood-Schlatter usually occurs between 11 and 12, while it is 13 and 14 years in boys.
Gender. Since boys are more active in sports, they have a higher risk of getting the condition. However, because girls are now being more involved with sports, the gender gap is becoming narrower.
Sports. Not all sports activities can cause this condition. It typically happens in children who do sports that involve high impact on the knees and frequent and quick shifts in direction.
When a child has Osgood-Schlatter disease, it is very uncommon to develop complications. But in rare cases, chronic pain and localized swelling can persist.
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