Diagnosis

During the physical exam, your doctor will check your child's knee for tenderness, swelling, pain and redness. X-rays may be taken to look at the bones of the knee and leg and to more closely examine the area where the kneecap tendon attaches to the shinbone.

Treatment

Osgood-Schlatter disease usually resolves without formal treatment. Symptoms typically disappear after your child's bones stop growing.

Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, Children's Motrin, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) might help.

Therapy

A physical therapist can teach your child exercises to stretch the thigh's quadriceps, which can help reduce the tension where the kneecap (patella) tendon attaches to the shinbone. A patellar tendon strap also can help relieve the tension. Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps and legs in general can help stabilize the knee joint.

Surgery

In very rare cases, if pain is debilitating and doesn't subside after the growth spurt, surgery to remove the bony overgrowth might be recommended.

Lifestyle and home remedies

It might help your child to:

  • Rest the joint. Limit time spent doing activities that aggravate the condition, such as kneeling, jumping and running.
  • Ice the affected area. This can help with pain and swelling.
  • Stretch leg muscles. Stretching the muscles on the front of the thigh (quadriceps), is especially important.
  • Protect the knee. When your child is participating in sports, have him or her wear a pad over the affected knee where the knee can become irritated.
  • Try a strap. A patellar tendon strap fits around the leg just below the kneecap. It can help to "tack down" the kneecap's tendon during activities and distribute some of the force away from the shinbone.
  • Cross-train. Suggest that your child switch to activities that don't involve jumping or running, such as cycling or swimming, until symptoms subside.

Preparing for your appointment

You'll likely first bring this problem to the attention of your family doctor or your child's pediatrician. He or she might refer you to a doctor who specializes in knee injuries or sports medicine.

What you can do

Bring to the appointment a written list that includes:

  • Detailed descriptions of your child's symptoms
  • Information about medical problems your child has had in the past
  • Information about medical problems common in your family
  • All the medications and dietary supplements your child takes
  • Questions you want to ask

Below are some basic questions to ask a doctor who is examining your child for possible Osgood-Schlatter disease. If any additional questions occur to you during your visit, don't hesitate to ask.

  • Do you expect my child will be able to continue in his or her current sport?
  • Does my child need to change his or her activities, such as playing a different position or training with different exercises? If so, for how long?
  • What signs or symptoms would signal a need for my child to take a complete break from athletics?
  • What other self-care measures would help my child?

What to expect from your doctor

Your child's doctor is likely to ask a number of questions, such as:

  • How severe is your pain?
  • Does your pain occur before, during or after your workouts — or is it constant?
  • Have you noticed swelling near your kneecap?
  • Have you had problems with mobility or stability?
  • What is your exercise or sports-training routine?
  • Have you recently changed your training routine, such as training harder or longer or using new techniques?
  • Are you able to tolerate the pain while playing your sport at your usual intensity?
  • Are your symptoms affecting your ability to complete normal, daily tasks, such as walking up stairs?
  • What at-home treatments have you tried? Has anything helped?
  • Have you had a recent injury that may have caused knee damage?
Nov. 17, 2017
References
  1. DeLee JC, et al. Patellofemoral pain. In:DeLee & Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 1, 2016.
  2. Osgood-Schlatter disease (knee pain). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00411. Accessed Oct. 1, 2016.
  3. Kienstra AJ, et al. Osgood-Schlatter disease (tibial tuberosity avulsion). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 1, 2016.

Osgood-Schlatter disease