During the growing stages of children and adolescents, the structures of the body such as the bones, muscles, tendons and all other tissues begin to grow rapidly. Throughout these years, it’s also common for kids and teens to live active lives and participate in physical activities or sports but, as the body grows, the changing tissues can sometimes develop growth conditions or be more prone to suffer injuries.
Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is a common condition causing knee pain in children and growing adolescents. It can be characterized as an inflammation located on the area just below the knee where the patellar tendon from the kneecap attaches to the tibia, or shinbone. The disease frequently occurs during growth spurts where the structures of the body begin changing abruptly. Also, since physical activity places additional pressure and stress on the bones and muscles, children and adolescents who participate in physical activities or athletic sports, such as running or jumping sports, have a higher risk of developing Osgood-Schlatter disease. However, less active youth may also experience this condition.
Commonly occurring in children between the ages of nine and fifteen, the symptoms for Osgood-Schlatter disease include: knee pain and tenderness while performing physical activities, inflammation and swelling at the region of the knee, and tight muscles at the front or back of the thigh. In some cases, the symptoms of the condition may be present in both knees, although these can be worse on one knee than the other.
Sinding Larsen Johansson syndrome (SLJ) is another condition resulting in knee pain in children and adolescents. This condition also occurs at the bottom of the patella or kneecap. Sinding Larsen Johansson syndrome is caused by a repetitive tugging on the cartilaginous growth plates found throughout a child’s body where these are weaker due to the young age and microscopic cracks form on the cartilage. This condition can also occur from one specific blow, fall, or sudden jump. Much like Osgood-Schlatter disease, this condition causes irritation, inflammation, swelling, and pain around the knee.
Sinding Larsen Johansson syndrome commonly occurs in children between the ages of seven and thirteen, slightly younger than those with OSD.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez