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Osgood-Schlatter disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a painful swelling of the bump on the front of the upper tibia (lower leg bone) in an area called the anterior tibial tubercle.

Information about of Osgood-Schlatter disease

To understand what's going on in Osgood-Schlatter disease , you need to understand a bit about how bones grow. Bones grow by initially forming a cartilage template, onto which calcium is deposited to form bone, (this process is called "ossification", and when the cartilage has been turned into bone it is "ossified"). Osgood-Schlatter disease  is an abnormality in this normal development of bones, and generally affects the joints. It resembles, but is distinct from  hip dysplasia in many respects, in that it too is a developmental disorder of cartilage-bone formation. The ends of a bone grow in two places. Firstly, at the epiphyseal plate. This is a cartilaginous region of the bone, the location of the greatest part of growth. Secondly, the cartilage which overlies the end of the bone, at the joint, also grows, and becomes ossified at the junction of bone and cartilage. You can see these areas of growth on this picture:

There are two main forms of Osgood-Schlatter disease . If the problem occurs at the epiphyseal plate, then the overlying bone will not join properly to the main shaft of the bone. If the problem occurs at the joint surface, then a thickened area of cartilage develops which is only loosely attached to the underlying bone. This can shear, resulting in the formation of a flap. This is known as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).

Causes of Osgood-Schlatter disease

Many theories have been advanced to account for Osgood-Schlatter disease , but none has proven fully satisfactory. Stress and ischemia (reduced blood supply) are two of the most commonly mentioned factors. Athletic young children are often affected when they overstress their developing limbs with a particular repetitive motion. Many cases are idiopathic, meaning that no specific cause is known.

The most common symptom for most types of Osgood-Schlatter disease  is simply pain at the affected joint, especially when pressure is applied. Locking of a joint or limited range of motion at a joint can also occur.

Scheuermann's disease can lead to serious kyphosis (hunchback condition) due to erosion of the vertebral bodies. Usually, however, the kyphosis is mild, causing no further symptoms and requiring no special treatment.

Diagnosis of Osgood-Schlatter disease

A doctor can make a diagnosis during a physical examination. A bone X-ray may be normal, may show soft tissue swelling, or may demonstrate fragmentation of the the tibial tubercle.

Treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease

Initial treatment includes rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS, for example ibuprofen). In many cases, the condition will disappear with rest, pain medication, and the reduction of sports or exercise.

In the rare case where symptoms do not resolve, the affected leg may be immobilized by a cast or brace until healing takes place. This typically takes 6 to 8 weeks. Crutches can be used for walking to keep weight off the affected leg.

Rarely, surgery may be needed if the initial treatment fails.


This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.


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