Occurring most commonly in fourteen- to sixteen-year-olds who are athletic, growth plate inflammation (Osgood-Schlatter disease) is characterized by warmth, reddening, and pain on the growth plate at the top front part of the shinbone where the kneecap tendon attaches to hold the kneecap in place. The growth plate (the tibial tuberosity) is weak and irritated because of growth and activity. Though the cause of growth plate inflammation is not known, physicians theorize that it occurs because weak quadriceps muscles allow too much force to be transmitted to the growth plate through the tendon from the quadriceps.
This condition produces an achy knee, in which pain centers on the front at the "bump." Running or playing sports brings severe pain.
Rest, ice, and elevation are the usual recommendations for mild cases. If an activity hurts, don′t do it. Decreasing running distance or time spent at an activity may be enough, or refraining completely from athletic activity may be necessary. Splints may be recommended by some physicians. As growth decreases, the risk of Osgood-Schlatter disease decreases. When the growth plate fuses and the bone solidifies, the risk disappears. In mild cases, improving quadriceps strength will help.