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Understanding Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a painful knee problem that can occur in active young people. It almost always gets better with rest and simple treatment. But you have a role to play.

Image of teen boy in basketball clothes sitting in a chair while a coach checks his knee.

What are the Symptoms?

If you’ve felt a sharp pain below your kneecap while being active, you may have Osgood-Schlatter disease. This is a painful bump that forms just beneath the knee. It can occur in one or both knees. Other symptoms include:

  • A dull ache in your knee while at rest

  • Tenderness and swelling below the kneecap

Who Develops This Problem?

Osgood-Schlatter disease most often occurs in boys who are 11 to 15 years old. But younger boys and some girls can have it, too. Osgood-Schlatter disease is usually caused by overusing the knee. Many kids who play sports that involve running or jumping develop this problem. These sports include basketball, soccer, football, and gymnastics.

Image of three teen kids sitting in bleachers cheering on team.

Rest is the Ticket

Osgood-Schlatter disease most often occurs while you’re still growing. But it’s not “growing pains.” It’s a medical problem that needs treatment. By resting your knee and briefly changing your activity, you will most likely get better. You may also have to wear a special strap around your knee. Only in rare cases will you need further treatment to heal. Just focus on giving your knee a little time and a lot of rest.

Note to Parents

Osgood-Schlatter disease may briefly slow your child down. But the knee often heals completely with self-care. It’s crucial that your child rest his or her knee. Rest speeds healing and helps keep the problem from getting worse. Taking care of it now may prevent the need for corrective knee surgery in adulthood. Call your child’s doctor if you have any questions or concerns about Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
Last Review Date: 3/8/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.