Osgood-Schlatter disease is an overuse injury that occurs in the knee area of growing adolescents. It is caused by inflammation of the tendon below the kneecap (patellar tendon) where it attaches to the shinbone (tibia). Young adolescents who participate in certain sports, including soccer, gymnastics, basketball, and distance running, are most at risk for this disease.
Tenderness below the kneecap
Left: The tendon below the kneecap (patellar tendon) attaches to the shinbone (tibia) at the tibial tubercle. Right: In Osgood-Schlatter disease, the enlarged, inflamed tibial tubercle is nearly always tender when pressure is applied.
Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment is aimed at reducing the pain and swelling. This may include the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and wrapping the knee until the child can enjoy activity without discomfort or significant pain afterwards.
Symptoms that worsen with activity may require rest for several months, followed by a conditioning program. In some patients, Osgood-Schlatter symptoms may last for 2 to 3 years. However, most symptoms will completely disappear with completion of the adolescent growth spurt, around age 14 for girls and age 16 for boys.