Knee Pain in Adolescents

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common source of knee pain in growing adolescents. It's an inflammation of the spot just under the knee where the tendon from the kneecap (patellar tendon) attaches to the shinbone (tibia). Dr. Kathleen Weaver of Audrain Orthopaedics in Mexico, MO has some important information for you about this medical condition.

Osgood-Schlatter disease most frequently occurs during growth spurts, whenever bones, muscles, tendons, and other structures are changing quickly. Since physical activity puts added stress on bones and muscles, children who participate in athletics -- especially running and jumping sports -- are at an elevated risk for this condition. Nevertheless, less active teens may also experience this issue.

In most cases of Osgood-Schlatter disease, simple measures like rest, non-prescription medicine, and stretching and strengthening exercises will ease pain and allow a return to day to day activities.


mexico missouri orthopedics General Orthopedics Joint Pain central missouri columbia moThe bones of kids and adolescents possess a unique area where the bone tissue is growing referred to as the growth plate. Growth plates are areas of cartilage positioned close to the ends of bones. When a kid is totally grown, the growth plates set into solid bone.

Some growth plates act as attachment sites for tendons, the strong tissues that hook up muscles to bones. A bony bump known as the tibial tubercle covers the growth plate towards the end of the tibia. The group of muscles in the front of the thigh (known as quadriceps) connects to the tibial tubercle.

Any time a child is active, the quadriceps muscles pull on the patellar tendon which in turn pulls on the tibial tubercle. In some kids, this repeated traction on the tubercle leads to inflammation of the growth plate. The prominence, or bump, of the tibial tubercle may be really pronounced.


Painful symptoms are often brought on by running, jumping, and other sports-related activities. In some cases, both knees have symptoms, although one knee may be worse than the other.

•   Knee pain and tenderness at the tibial tubercle

•   Swelling at the tibial tubercle

•   Tight muscles in the back or front of the thigh

Doctor Examination

Throughout the appointment, your doctor will discuss your child's symptoms and general health. He or she will undertake a thorough examination of the knee to ascertain the source of the pain. This will consist of applying pressure to the tibial tubercle, which will be sensitive or painful for a youngster with Osgood-Schlatter disease. Also, your doctor might also ask your child to walk, run, jump, or kneel to find out if the movements bring about painful symptoms.

Your doctor might also order an x-ray image of your kid's knee to help verify the diagnosis or preclude any other problems. Dr. Weaver serves the people of Mexico, Fulton, Columbia, Centralia, and all over Central Missouri who have Osgood-Schlatter disease.


Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease focuses primarily on relieving pain and swelling. This typically requires restricting exercise activity until your child can engage in activity without discomfort or significant pain afterwards. In some cases, rest from activity is required for several months, followed closely by a strength conditioning program. If however your son or daughter does not have a great deal of pain or a limp, involvement in sports might be safe to continue.

Your physician may advise additional treatment methods, including:

•   Stretching exercises. Stretches for the back and front of the thigh (quadriceps and hamstring muscles) might help relieve pain and prevent the disease from coming back.

•   Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen lessen pain and swelling.


The majority of symptoms will completely disappear whenever a youngster completes the adolescent growth spurt, around age 14 for girls and age 16 for boys. Because of this, surgery is seldom recommended. However, the prominence of the tubercle will persist.

If you feel your youngster might have Osgood-Schlatter disease and you want answers, you can go to Dr. Weaver of Audrain Orthopaedics for a professional opinion. She's a highly-skilled physician with a great deal of experience with the field of orthopedic medicine.

You did everything in your power to make sure I got back on my feet…Literally!

L.K. age 32