Treating Osgood-Schlatter Disease in Children

If your child has knee pain, he or she may have a condition known as Osgood-Schlatter disease. The condition is sometimes considered "knee growing pains," and it affects children typically between the ages of 10 and 15 years.

If you suspect your child has Osgood-Schlatter disease, what are the things that you should do first to get started on treatment? By understanding the first things you should do, you can make sure you get the proper treatment--at the proper time--for your child's Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Doctor examining a young girl's knee
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Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter Disease

How do you know if your child has Osgood-Schlatter disease? Signs and symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease may include:

  • A complaint of pain in one or both knees in a pre-teen child
  • A noticeable bony bump in the front of the knee, a few inches below the kneecap
  • Pain to touch over the front of the knees, just below the kneecap
  • Pain with running, jumping, squatting or after participation in athletics.

If your child has any of these symptoms, or if your child has any knee pain with activity, it is a good idea to check in with his or her pediatrician to get started on the right treatment.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease: First Steps to Treatment

When managing Osgood-Schlatter disease in your child's knees, here are some things you should start right away to properly deal with the condition.

  • Don't panic. First, don't panic. Although it causes significant knee pain that can limit your child's participation in sports, Osgood-Schlatter disease is a relatively benign condition. If left alone and not treated, most cases go away within 12 to 24 months. The main goal of treatment is to give your child relief and strategies to self-manage the condition so he or she can get back to normal athletics and participation in a physical education class.
  • See your pediatrician. Whenever your child has knee pain (or any other pain) that limits normal participation in sports or with functional mobility, you should take him or her to the pediatrician. A simple X-ray is typically all that is done to confirm the diagnosis of Osgood-Schlatter disease. Most cases can be diagnosed by clinical examination alone; the X-ray helps to rule out other possible causes of knee pain in your child. Your child's pediatrician can make recommendations about limiting activity and perhaps starting a PT program to help treat Osgood-Schlatter disease.
  • Temporarily stop sports or other high-intensity activity. The key word here is "temporarily." If your child has Osgood-Schlatter disease, participation in high-intensity sports can be difficult or painful. Taking a few weeks off of intense athletics can give your child's knees a much-needed break. Just remember to remind your child that the break from sports is temporary and that he or she will be back to their normal activities within a short period of time. Extended periods of inactivity with Osgood-Schlatter disease is not recommended.
  • Visit a physical therapist. While there is no cure for Osgood-Schlatter disease, a few sessions with a physical therapist can help your child get started on the right treatment. Your PT can assess your child's flexibility, strength, and balance and prescribe an individualized exercise program for Osgood-Schlatter disease for your child. Your PT can also make recommendations about your child's participation in or return to sports.
  • Ditch the passive treatments. Passive modalities like heat or ice may help to temporarily ease the pain that is felt with Osgood-Schlatter disease, but these treatments are really not necessary. The best treatment for the condition is to get things moving with a proper stretching and strengthening exercise routine.
  • Don't worry about the bony bump. With Osgood-Schlatter disease, a small bony lump typically appears a few inches below the kneecap. This is usually permanent and causes no significant functional limitation in your child. Leave it alone and it will be fine.

A Word From Verywell

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition that is common among pre-teen children. The condition causes pain in one or both knees that limit participation in sports or high-level activities like running or jumping. Know what to do first when your child has Osgood-Schlatter disease can help set you on a course for rapid recovery. That way, your child can get back to normal sports and activities quickly and safely.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. University of Rochester. Osgood-Schlatter disease in children.

  2. Harvard Medical School Harvard Health Publishing. Osgood-Schlatter disease.

  3. Guldhammer C, Rathleff MS, Jensen HP, Holden S. Long-term prognosis and impact of Osgood-Schlatter disease 4 years after diagnosis: a retrospective study. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2019;7(10):232596711987813-. doi:10.1177/2325967119878136

  4. Smith JM, Varacallo M. Osgood Schlatter's disease (tibial tubercle apophysitis). In: StatPearls.

  5. American Academy of Orthpaedic Surgeons. Osgood-Schlatter disease (knee pain).

By Brett Sears, PT
Brett Sears, PT, MDT, is a physical therapist with over 20 years of experience in orthopedic and hospital-based therapy.