Knee injuries and pain in children: Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD)

The increase in sports practice among the population has led to more and more frequent consultations in traumatology for knee pain. The bad habit of not warming up before sport or not wearing the right clothing and footwear are the main risk factors for these injuries.

Osgood-Schlatter disease

Knee pain is sometimes due to Osgood-Schlatter disease. This pathology causes pain that appears when the patient performs physical activities or sports. Who suffers it explains that the area where it suffers is just below the knee. It is the anterior tibial tuberosity; and the pain is accompanied by an inflammation in that area.

Injuries in the knee

It is very common for children between 9 and 15 years of age to suffer this type of injury, especially because at that age they often play sports that require leg work, such as soccer. This type of activity causes great stress on the muscles, often disproportionate to their age. The patellar tendon, which is under the kneecap, is anchored to the tibia and pulls strongly on it to stretch the knee. Sometimes repeated stretching causes inflammation and the onset of pain.

Diagnosis of a knee injury

The pediatric trauma specialist will need to take a medical history and perform a physical examination to make a diagnosis. Radiography, although rarely used for this diagnosis (unless it is intended to rule out that the pain has another origin), may be normal or show a tear of the tibial tuberosity.

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Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease

The treatment is performed with the intention of eliminating the pain, not the disease. To achieve this end, the combined techniques include good stretching, the application of ice and anti-inflammatory medication.

The warm-up exercises are performed before and after the sports activity, and are designed to stretch the quadriceps and hamstrings. Afterwards, ice is applied to the painful area for 20 minutes. In addition, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs can have a positive effect on pain control.

Results of treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease

Most children respond positively to treatment. If they feel they can tolerate the discomfort, their sporting activity need not be affected. In winter, as well as in times of growth spurts or when physical activity increases, the pain increases. The best thing to do in this situation is to rest in order to properly control the injury.

In case of not being in situation to stop the practice of the sport, the patient can resort to the use of a patellar strap, or to a patellar bandage. It should be noted that the use of this prosthesis does not repair the injury, but helps to bear the pain. In fact, the painful sensation is usually greater when the strap is removed after sport.

It is unusual for this pathology to require surgery, and most patients improve spontaneously after a period of 12 to 18 months. Furthermore, the symptoms disappear by the time the child reaches adulthood.