What is Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common cause for anterior knee pain in adolescents. It is a painful swelling of the bump on the front of the upper tibia (the shin bone) in an area of the tibia called the anterior tibial tubercle.

The anterior tibial tubercles is where the quadriceps tendon attaches on the tibia (the muscle that helps straighten the leg).

This is an overuse condition where there is inflammation of the insertion site of the quadriceps tendon – the term for this sort of disorder is ‘traction apophysitis’ since the traction of the tendon on the developing tibial tuberosity is thought to be responsible.

Statistics on Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease

One Finnish study found that OS disease affected 13% of athletes. OS disease occurs more frequently in boys, probably because a greater number of boys participate in sports. It is seen in the adolescent years after undergoing a rapid growth spurt the previous year.

Girls who are affected are typically aged 10-11 years, while boys who are affected are typically aged 13-14 years.

Risk Factors for Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease

The disorder is seen most often in active, athletic adolescents, with boys more frequently affected than girls. If suffering from the condition, further physical activity could inflame the tibia further.

Progression of Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease

The greater majority of cases will resolve themselves in a matter of weeks or months. Cessation or a reduction in activity will aid in resolving the disorder faster. Once the adolescent has ceased growing, the disorder will also be resolved.

How is Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease Diagnosed?

An x-ray may be normal, or it may show soft tissue swelling, or may demonstrate fragmentation of the the tibial tubercle.

Prognosis of Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease

OS disease is an overuse condition, and it is tends to resolve on its own with reduction of physical activity.

How is Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease Treated?


  • Treatment includes rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS, for example, ibuprofen).
  • In many cases, the condition will disappear with the above measures 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 and will also reduce the chance of inflamming the tibia.Rarely, surgery may be needed if all other treatment fails.

    Osgood-Schlatter (OS) disease References

    1. Dunn JF: Osgood-Schlatter disease [see comments]. Am Fam Physician 1990 Jan; 41(1): 173-6
    2. eMEDICINE
    3. Krause BL, Williams JP, Catterall A: Natural history of Osgood-Schlatter disease. J Pediatr Orthop 1990 Jan-Feb; 10(1): 65-8
    4. Kumar P, Clark M. CLINICAL MEDICINE. WB Saunders 2002 Pg 571.
    5. MEDLINE Plus


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