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Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Osgood-Schlatter Disease

What is Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is an overuse condition. It’s when the tendon in a knee becomes injured and inflamed. This tendon connects the thigh muscles to the knee and shin bone.

What causes Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused by the constant pulling of the tendon in the knee. It is seen in growing children and teens. This is an age where the bones are typically growing faster than the muscles and tendons. As a result, the muscles and tendons tend to become tight.

Who is at risk for Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is common in young athletes who play games or sports that involve running, jumping, or going up and down stairs. These include football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, or ballet. It most often affects preteen and teenage boys ages 10 to 15.

What are the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease?

The following are the most common symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. Symptoms may include:

  • Soreness below the knee
  • Swelling below the knee
  • Limping (may worsen following jumping activities)

These symptoms may seem like other health problems of the knee. See your child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease diagnosed?

our child’s healthcare provider can diagnose Osgood-Schlatter disease with a complete health history and physical exam of your child’s knee. Your child may also need to have an X-ray of the affected knee.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease treated?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The goal of treatment is to control your child’s knee pain and prevent the condition from worsening. Treatment may include:

  • RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation)
  • Medicines such as anti-inflammatories for discomfort and swelling
  • Elastic wrap, padding, or a neoprene knee sleeve around the knee
  • Limits on activity
  • Physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the thigh and leg muscles

Osgood-Schlatter disease often goes away over time. In rare cases, your child may need surgery.

Can Osgood-Schlatter disease be prevented?

Your child can develop Osgood-Schlatter disease again. To prevent that from happening, have your child:

  • Do exercises to strengthen the thigh and leg muscles. Your child’s healthcare provider may recommend certain exercises or physical therapy.
  • Ice the knee area after being active. It can ease pain and swelling. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

Key points about Osgood-Schlatter disease

  • Osgood-Schlatter disease is an overuse condition that affects the tendons in the knee.
  • Growing children who are active in sports are most at risk for this disease. It’s common in children who participate in football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, or ballet.
  • Pain and swelling in the knee area are the main symptoms.
  • Treatment includes RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) of the affected knee.
  • Your child may also have to limit certain activities, such as running.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.
Childrens Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Dr. J. Marc Cardelia
Dr. Allison Crepeau
Dr. Cara Novick
Dr. Jeremy Saller
Dr. H. Sheldon St. Clair
Dr. Carl St. Remy
Dr. Allison Tenfelde
Sports Medicine and Adolescent Medicine
Diseases & Conditions
Growth-Related Disorders

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.