Osgood Schlatter’s disease is a relatively common juvenile condition in which a fragment of bone from the tibia (shin bone) is pulled away by the quadriceps. This condition most often affects active 10-15 years olds. Symptoms include a tender swelling just below the knee cap (the tibial tubercle).
Once the condition has run its course, the bone remains prominent into adulthood. Patients often come in with no knowledge of the condition, but may remember a history of knee pain in their adolescence once the bony lump is noticed. It is very common and often does not make a significant impact.
The knee is particularly prone to Osgood Schlatter’s in the teenage years as the growth plate just below the knee cap is still relatively soft until around the age of 12. So when a lot of power is put through the quadriceps and into this area, it can be pulled to create a more prominent bone. One theory is that during growth spurts, the bones may grow quicker than the quadriceps, making the muscles relatively tight and pulling on the tibial tubercle.
Typical advice is ice and rest, be it a decrease in sport or ceasing it altogether. Modification of the sport in question may also be a viable option. An article published in the British Medical Journal suggests that physical therapy can benefit the patient by focusing on the muscles providing the force that causes Osgood Schlatter disease.
As the body matures, Osgood Schlatter’s self-limits. When the growth plate solidifies, it can resist the pull from the quadriceps tendon, so the bone is not pulled any further and irritation subsides.