This overuse injury is an inflammation that occurs at the point where the patellar tendon attaches to the tibia. It most commonly affects adolescents. One or both knees may be affected.
Doctors are not sure exactly what causes this injury, but it typically occurs during periods of growth spurts and affects children who are very physically active. Sports that require running and jumping can cause muscles and tendons of the leg to pull against the growth plate at the top of tibia.
The growth plate, a layer of cartilage near the end of developing bones, is softer than the rest of the bone and vulnerable to injury. Repeated stress can cause the patellar tendons to begin to pull away from the bone at the growth plate.
Symptoms can include pain and swelling ranging from mild to severe at the front of the tibia below the kneecap. Pain worsens with exercise, and may cause limping.
OSD generally goes away by itself when a teenager's bones stop growing. Treatment options for mild cases include medications for pain, taking a break from physical activity, knee pads, cushioned insoles, ice, stretching exercises, cross training and physical therapy. In severe cases, a cast or brace may be required, along with a total break from physical activity.