Osgood-Schlatter disease is a cause of pain in the anterior aspect (front) of the knee in a young adolescent athlete. Usually the athlete will complain of a painful bump where the patellar tendon attaches to the tibia. Often no traumatic event started the pain. Usually the condition resolves on its own as the child finishes growing. Sometimes physical therapy or home strengthening exercises can speed pain relief and return to sports.
Signs and symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease
Young athletes often complain of pain in the front of the knee. Specifically the pain is worst at the point where the patella tendon inserts into the tibial tuberosity. He or she will often notice that this area is larger than the other side. Often the athlete will complain of pain with sports, exercise, and even daily activities. Going up and down stairs and sitting for long periods of time might become painful.
Diagnosis of Osgood-Schlatter disease
A sports medicine physician or orthopedic surgeon can diagnose Osgood-Schlatter disease by exam and x-rays. The tibial tubercle might be more prominent than normal. Exam will show that the young athlete is tender right at this area. X-rays often show changes consistent with this problem. More detailed radiographic studies, such as MRI, are rarely needed.
Treatment options and return to sports and exercise
Treatment to relieve symptoms almost always is successful without surgery. Activity modification, knee sleeves or patellar tendon straps, home strengthening exercises or physical therapy, stretching exercises, and ice usually relieve the symptoms. Surgery to remove the prominent bone is rarely necessary, and it’s typically done more in adults. When the young athlete has overcome the pain, he or she can return to sports and exercise.
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