Bodyworks: Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease

Osteochondritis is an inflammation of developing bone in children, in which an area becomes softened and deformed in the lower limbs or back. Osgood-Schlatter’s disease is a form of this which occurs at the upper front of the tibia (shin bone), where the patellar tendon from the knee joins it.

Symptoms
You are probably aged between 10 and 14, play a variety of sports, and have developed a painful bony swelling below the knee. It will hurt with strenuous activity, particularly when you kick a ball or contract the quadriceps muscle, to which it is connected through the kneecap.

Signs
It’s easy to confirm the swelling of the tibial tubercle, and your doctor will ensure that the joint is not involved.

Medical investigations
Many experienced doctors do not now bother to x-ray the area, as the disorder is easy to identify and ultimately heals itself.

What else could it be?
Infections and tumours affecting the same spot are so rare that they can be discounted. Nothing else will produce a similar swelling at this site.

Self-treatment
Rest from painful activity, accompanied by ice packs and ibuprofen after exercise, should provide you with relief. You shouldn’t take medication prior to exercise, though, as it could mask a worsening situation.

Medical treatment
If you get no relief, your doctor may very occasionally inject steroid, or even immobilise the leg in plaster. Physiotherapy to ease the pain should not be used as a cover to increase training.

Can you run through it?/ Recovery time
Although full recovery can take years, this is unusual, and time away from sport is more usually measured in months. Many youngsters will surreptitiously continue to exercise through the pain, and while this isn’t to be applauded, you can’t blame them, as they inevitably make a full recovery…