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An overuse injury such as Osgood-Schlatter disease can affect any child as they grow, causing knee pain and a bump below the knee in children.

Osgood-Schlatter disease, or tibial tubercle apophysitis, is a common cause of knee pain in children and teens, often caused by growing pain in knees. A child with Osgood-Schlatter disease typically experiences swelling and irritation in the growth plate in the knee, at the top of their shinbone. Osgood Schlatter disease can cause a painful bump to develop just below the knee area over the shinbone and cause swelling and irritation of the tissues surrounding the tissue that joins the kneecap to the shinbone (also known as the patellar tendon).

Osgood-Schlatter disease only occurs in children and adolescents, and is usually during growth spurts or during puberty. When bones grow rapidly, the muscles and tendons do not always grow as fast, causing tension and inflammation at the areas where they attach to the bone – commonly known as growing pains.

Many of the children affected by Osgood-Schlatter disease are athletes, so it is thought of as a sports injury related to overuse. It often occurs in children who participate in sports that involve running, jumping and swift changes of direction. Pain usually worsens while children are active and eases with rest.

Diagnosing Osgood-Schlatter disease often includes:

  • A physical exam by a pediatric orthopedic surgeon of the entire body to look for a bump below knee, pain, swelling, tenderness and redness
  • A review of your child’s medical history
  • X-rays or MRI to get a more detailed view of how the tendon attaches to the shinbone, as well as the growth plate in knee

Osgood-Schlatter disease usually occurs in just one knee, but it can affect both knees. The pain and discomfort can last from weeks to months. It tends to resolve on its own, once the child's bones stop growing, and typically doesn't cause lasting problems.

Specific Osgood-Schlatter treatment and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter Disease

If your child has Osgood-Schlatter disease, you might look for common symptoms such as:

  • Tenderness or pain below the knee
  • Swelling below the knee
  • A painful bump at the top of the shinbone

Pain usually worsens during certain activities, such as running, kneeling or jumping, and eases with rest.

When to See a Doctor

If your child's knee pain interferes with their ability to perform daily activities, the specialists at Shriners Children's are here to help. Schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric orthopedic surgeons if their knee is swollen and red, or if the knee pain is associated with fever, locking or instability of the knee joint.

Treatment of Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Usually, the disease goes away on its own. If your child is still growing and experiencing symptoms, Osgood-Schlatter treatment might include:

Shriners Children's doctors know what a child's growth plates are supposed to look like and will evaluate their entire body to determine the cause of their pain.
Christopher Vara, M.D., Shriners Children's Twin Cities

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.