An overuse injury such as Osgood-Schlatter disease can affect any child as they grow.
Osgood-Schlatter disease, or tibial tubercle apophysitis, is a common cause of knee pain in children and teens. A child with Osgood-Schlatter disease typically experiences swelling and irritation in the growth plate at the top of their shinbone. This swelling and irritation can cause a painful, bony bump on the shinbone just below the knee.
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 & inflammation at the areas where they attach to the bone.
Many of the children affected by Osgood-Schlatter disease are athletes, so it is often 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 of the entire body to look for 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
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 treatments 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 us if their knee is swollen and red, or if the knee pain is associated with fever, locking or instability of the knee joint.
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.