Knee Pain in Kids; The Ultimate Growing Pains

As a teenager, there’s a lot of stress and pressure when it comes to school, sports, a social life, family life, etc. With all that going on, the last thing anybody wants to deal with is growing pains. The term “growing pains” is used a lot but there aren’t many painful conditions specifically caused by growth. What we are going to cover today is one of those conditions.

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition that effects one or both knees in growing children
and young adults. There are more than 200,000 cases reported every year. The primary age group effected by this condition is 14-18 years old, followed up by ages 6-13. When present, the child will feel a lot of pain just under the kneecap and will have a lot of trouble with any jumping or running activities.

What exactly is Osgood-Schlatter disease? What causes it and what can we do about it?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is characterized by a painful lump present below the kneecap inknee-diagram children and adolescents. Below the kneecap there is a large bump on the front of your shin bone, known as the tibial tuberosity. This bump is where the tendons from your knee cap attach. During growth and development, this tendon can become irritated and painful. You may also notice redness and swelling just below the kneecap. This condition is most common when children experience a growth spurt and/or when they play sports that involves a lot of running or jumping.

Why does this happen? While we grow, there are a lot of changes happening to our bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When a child is active, the muscles on the front of their thigh (called the quadriceps) attaches to and pulls a tendon that is attached to the tibial tuberosity described above. When injured, swelling and redness with associated pain and discomfort can occur.

It was once thought that this condition was more prevalent in boys but because of the increased involvement of girls in sports they are noticing the gender gap narrow. Because girls typically mature at an earlier age than boys, you’ll more likely notice this condition at a younger age in girls.

How do we treat it?

  1. Rest

The best thing you can do for this condition is to have the child take a break from sports and let the knee rest and heal.

2. Ice

Putting ice on the affected area for 15 minutes at a time can also help reduce redness and swelling.

3. Stretch

Quad stretch: a standing quad stretch like the one pictured below will help to stretch out the thigh muscle and reduce the strain being put on the patellar tendon.


4. Consult a physician if not improved

If the child is having trouble walking or completing daily activities, you should consult a physician to make sure there aren’t other problems present.

Osgood-Schlatter disease usually resolves on its own once the child’s bones stop growing. This can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months depending on where in the development process the child is. Finally, once healed, there could be a more pronounced bump where the pain was. This is a normal effect of Osgood-Schlatter disease and should not be of concern.

If you have any more questions regarding Osgood-Schlatter disease or want to get your child checked out by one of our doctors, please contact us!

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