If your child is having knee pain or heel pain, he could be developing two ailments that occur in active children: Osgood-Schlatter disease and Sever’s disease. Don’t worry. These aren’t life-threatening conditions, but they do cause discomfort, and treatment is needed to ensure your loved one doesn’t make the condition worse.
Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon and our board-certified musculoskeletal and regenerative medicine physician with Urgently Ortho are the experts you want to see to help your child recover from Osgood-Schlatter or Sever’s disease. Preteen and teenage boys who are physically active and play sports are the most likely individuals to be diagnosed with these conditions.
Both of the ailments are a result of irritation of your child’s growth plates, either in the knee (Osgood-Schlatter) or around the heel (Sever’s disease). The growth plate is the cartilage at the end of your child’s bone. It’s the part of the bone that grows, causing the bones to become longer. If the growth plate is stressed, your child may start having painful symptoms.
If your child plays a sport that involves a lot of running or jumping (think basketball, football, soccer, hockey), or any sport that stresses the knee, he’s at risk for Osgood-Schlatter. The cartilage around the growth plate, which will eventually become bone, isn’t as strong as bone. The stress of the activity can cause irritation around the growth plate. In Osgood-Schlatter, that area is where the patellar tendon in the knee connects with the tibia, one of the long bones in the lower leg.
Your child has pain around the knee. He may have swelling and tenderness there. You see him limping after practice.
It’s time for a timeout from physical activity that stresses his knee. He’s going to miss some practices and games, but hopefully not too many.
Rest, icing the knee area several times a day, and over-the-counter pain relievers help calm the symptoms. Kneepads can be helpful. His doctor may recommend he wear a patellar tendon strap beneath his kneecap to reduce stress on the knee and tibia.
If your child is diagnosed with Sever’s disease, he has heel pain. His Achilles tendon is placing stress on the growth plate in his heel. The pain increases with activities like running and jumping.
As with Osgood-Schlatter, your child needs to take a break from the activity that’s causing the pain. Icing the area and over-the-counter pain medication help ease discomfort, as they do with Osgood-Schlatter.
Your child’s doctor talks with you and your child about his footwear. She may recommend gel inserts for his heels. Have him wear slippers in the house; he shouldn’t go barefoot. The doctor also recommends specific stretches your child should incorporate into his daily routine to help limit the way the tendons stress the growth plate.
The good news? Both of these conditions disappear when your child’s growth plate closes. For all of your musculoskeletal concerns, call Urgently Ortho for expert orthopedic treatment.