Osgood-Schlatter disease, also known as osteochondritis of the tibial tubercle, was first described in 1903 [1,2]. It is a traction apophysitis of the proximal tibial tubercle at the insertion of the patellar tendon.
The clinical features and management of Osgood-Schlatter disease will be discussed here. Causes of knee pain and the general approach to the diagnosis of knee pain in children and adolescents are discussed separately. (See "Traumatic causes of acute knee pain and injury in the young athlete" and "Approach to the young athlete with acute knee pain or injury" and "Approach to the young athlete with chronic knee pain or injury".)
Osgood-Schlatter disease is characterized by pain and swelling at the tibial tubercle, the point of insertion of the patellar tendon (figure 1 and picture 1). The patellar tendon arises from the inferior pole of the patella, a sesamoid bone within the quadriceps tendon. The quadriceps muscle is involved in knee extension.
Osgood-Schlatter disease generally occurs in children 9 to 14 years of age who have undergone a rapid growth spurt. It occurs in approximately 20 percent of adolescents who are active in sports compared with 5 percent of nonathletes . It is bilateral in 25 to 50 percent of cases, although the involvement is typically asymmetric [3-5].
Osgood-Schlatter has traditionally occurred most commonly in boys. However, it is becoming more common in girls as their sports participation increases . Osgood-Schlatter typically occurs one to two years earlier in girls than in boys, corresponding to the different timing of the pubertal growth spurt. (See "Normal puberty", section on 'Growth spurt'.)