Osgood-Schlatter Disease

  • Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Osgood-Schlatter disease facts

  • Osgood-Schlatter disease is a painful inflammation in the front of the bony leg below the knee.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease can cause local pain, inflammation, swelling, and calcification.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease can be diagnosed by the history and examination.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease can be helped by antiinflammation and pain-relieving medications, ice, and rest.

What is Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a disorder involving painful inflammation of the lower front of the knee, where the large tendon (patellar tendon) attached to the lower portion of the kneecap (patella) attaches to the bone (tibia or shinbone) of the leg below. The condition is characterized by localized pain where the tendon attaches to the tibia and tenderness in this area. Osgood-Schlatter disease is a disease of the growing child and is predominantly seen in young adolescent boys. It is felt that stress on the bone from the tendon tugging it during activities leads to Osgood-Schlatter disease.

What are symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is felt to be due, in part, to recurrent pulling tension on the kneecap tendon by the bulky muscles of the front of the thigh. The irritation of this pulling can cause local pain, inflammation, swelling, and in severe cases, an enlarged area of calcification of the tendon where it attaches to the tibia that is visible with an X-ray test.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease diagnosed?

Osgood-Schlatter disease can be diagnosed clinically based on the typical symptoms and physical examination findings. X-ray testing is sometime performed in order to document the status of the calcification at the insertion of kneecap (patellar) tendon. Sometimes a tiny piece of the growth area of the tibial attachment is actually pulled away by the inflamed tendon.

What is the treatment and outlook for Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Patients with Osgood-Schlatter disease can be helped by antiinflammation and pain-relieving medications, ice, activity modification, and rest. Osgood-Schlatter disease typically goes away over time (months to years after the normal bone growth stops). Some adults who have had Osgood-Schlatter disease are left with "knobby" appearance to the front of the knee. In rare cases, if a bone fragment in this area continues to cause pain in adulthood, it may require surgery to remove.

Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopedic Surgery
"Osgood-Schlatter disease (tibial tuberosity avulsion)" uptodate.com

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/8/2015

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