Osgood-Schlatter Disease

A thick tendon joins the thigh muscle to the kneecap. Another tendon joins the kneecap to the shinbone just below the knee. Osgood-Schlatter disease is an inflammation with pain and swelling at the point where the tendon connects to the shinbone. It happens in young teens during times of rapid bone growth. It's more common in kids who play high-impact sports such as soccer, gymnastics, basketball, and distance running.

Symptoms may increase and then decrease for 6 to 18 months. They'll usually go away by the end of the growth spurt. This is about age 14 for girls and age 16 for boys. Even after symptoms go away, a bump may remain on the shinbone. This won’t get in the way of knee function.

Treatment consists of limiting sports activities that make symptoms worse. Padding can also be used for kneeling activities. Anti-inflammatory medicines can help ease pain and swelling. More severe cases may require crutches for a while.

Home care

  • Apply an ice pack over the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every 3 to 6 hours. You should do this for the first 24 to 48 hours. You can make an ice pack by filling a plastic bag that seals at the top with ice cubes and then wrapping it with a thin towel. Be careful not to injure your child's skin with the ice treatments. Ice should never be applied directly to skin. Keep using ice packs to ease pain and swelling as needed.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed.  Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may be more effective than acetaminophen. If your child has long-term (chronic) liver or kidney disease, or ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with their healthcare provider before using these medicines.

  • You may use a knee wrap or strap over the insertion of the patellar tendon (the tender point). Also have your child wear a protective knee pad. These measures can ease stress on the tendon during high-impact sports.

  • Activities may be continued as long as pain isn't severe and doesn't last longer than 24 hours. Your child may not be able to squat or kneel for long periods of time. Other activities, such as cycling or swimming, may be done until symptoms improve. These activities don’t stress the knee as much. 

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as advised.

When to get medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Increasing pain or swelling, not relieved by rest

  • Redness and warmth in the knee area

  • Pain while the knee is at rest

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