Osgood-Schlatter Disease in Children: Care Instructions

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Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common problem for older children and teenagers. It usually happens when a child is growing a lot and his or her leg bones get longer.

This problem causes pain and swelling in the shin bone below the knee (patella). It can happen in one or both legs. The pain may come and go. In some cases, it lasts more than a year. It usually stops when your child stops growing a lot. After it stops, your child may have a painless bump on his or her bones.

There are things your child can do to feel better. Rest can help. So can limiting other sports and activities that put pressure on the knee. Your doctor may also recommend ice, pain medicine, or leg stretches.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • When your child has pain, rest the sore leg.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the knee for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • It is okay for your child to play sports and be active. This will not cause any long-term problems. But if those sports or activities cause pain, your child may want to try ones that don't put pressure on the knee. Good examples are swimming, walking, and biking.
  • Have your child wear knee pads or patellar straps when he or she plays sports or does activities that put pressure on the knee.
  • Simple stretches before activities will help keep your child's legs flexible. Here are two that may help:
    • Quadriceps stretch: Your child lies on his or her side with one hand supporting the head. He or she bends the upper leg back and grabs the ankle with the hand. Then your child stretches the leg back. Hold the stretch at least 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat 2 to 4 times. Then your child should change sides and stretch the other leg.
    • Hamstring stretch: Your child sits on the floor with the right leg extended out straight, the knee slightly bent, and the toes pointing toward the head. He or she bends the left leg so that the left foot is next to the inside of the right thigh. He or she leans forward from the hips, and reaches for the right ankle. Your child should not try to touch his or her forehead to the knee. Hold the stretch at least 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat 2 to 4 times. Then your child should change sides and stretch the other leg.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has increased or severe pain.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016