Danger Level: Low
What is it?
Osgood-Schlatter is a disease that causes inflammation and pain in the knee.
Who gets it?
Children who are physically active, around the ages of 10-15 (especially in sports). It used to be more common in boys for that reason, but as girls are more active in sports, they also get the disease.
It usually happens at a period when the child has a growth spurt – the time when bones are lengthening fast.
What causes it?
The muscles in the front of our thighs are called the quadriceps. They are attached to the bones in our knees by a tendon called the patellar tendon. When there is a growth spurt, the repeated pulling that happens on the tendon when doing sports causes stress on the knee bones.
This causes tiny fractures in the bone and an inflammation, which causes the bone to swell.
How does it feel?
The knee hurts during activities, and is swollen and sensitive to touch. The pain eases when you rest and gets worse during activities.
How is it discovered?
Usually the story and looks of the knee are enough. Sometimes, when not certain, the doctor will take an x-ray picture of the knee, which will show that the knee bone is enlarged or has broken into fragments. Here’s an example:
The arrow in red shows the consequence of the disease (Photo by Lucien Monfils)
How is it treated?
The treatment consists of rest and things that lessen the pain, such as ice packs or drugs that relieve pain or inflammation.
What happens after treatment?
Usually within a few months the disease goes away.
The bottom line: How do I avoid it?
Obviously, if you don’t participate in sports your chances of getting Osgood-Schlatter are much lower. But, as you can see in the danger level above, and in the fact that this condition usually goes away by itself, it is not recommended to refrain from sports.