Osgood-Schlatter Disease: Symptoms & Treatment

Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is a medical condition resulting from the inflammation of bones, cartilage or tendons in the tibia. The result of this are growth spurts that specifically affects the knee. It is much more common in growing teenagers between the ages of 10 to 15. It also affects people who are more active in sports involving frequent jumping and running.

OSD will affect growing teenagers at the beginning of their growth spurts. Growth spurts provide the most ideal condition for OSD as different components of the body is growing but at a different rate. For example, the bone grows much faster than soft tissues such as tendons and cartilage and this will create a lot of stress on the growth plate, causing a bony lump. This lump is caused by traction tendinitis and is due to the hardening of the bone at the top of the tibia.

What are the symptoms?

OSD is a medical condition that can be felt due to the tension on the patella tendon by the surrounding muscles. This will result in painful inflammation of the tibia, affecting the patellar tendon all the way to the shinbone. The result is extreme pain, swelling and tenderness which is visible with an x-ray diagnosis. There are other possible symptoms and these include:

  • Pain that gets worse after periods of activeness
  • Pain goes away after periods of rest
  • Swelling under the knee and shinbone
  • Tightness of hamstring and quadriceps muscles

 

How can OSD be treated?

OSD will usually go away on its own after the growth spurt periods and this is usually by the age of 18. If symptoms persist after that, treatment is then required:

  • Icing the affected area for three times a day or as required, especially after sports
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain
  • Reduction of high impact activities
  • Using a knee immobiliser such as a knee brace
  • Stretching before and after any activity
  • Physiotherapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles

 

Shock absorbent insoles are recommended if the patient is going back to high impact activities or prolonged periods of walking. However, patients are recommended to stop participating in sports to facilitate healing. Non-impact sports such as swimming are still allowed though.

There are no known long-term complications of OSD and only in rare cases are there patients with persistent swelling. In some patients, there are also persistent lumps appearing on the shinbone but this is extremely rare.