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What Is Osgood Slaughters?
Q: My son plays soccer on a team with a boy who has something called Osgood's Slaughters, and now the boy can't play anymore. Will my son get it too? I'm worried.
Osgood Slaughters disease is a very common problem in children. It is an inflammation of the bone at the growth plate about two inches below the kneecap, where the tendon attaches. You can often feel or see a lump right at the site. It usually affects children during early adolescence. It affects boys more than girls, and occurs more often in physically active children. It does not cause any permanent harm to the bone or the tendon, but can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
The cause of Osgood Slaughters disease is not fully known, but is probably due to the rapid growth that occurs in early adolescence, combined with the forceful pull of the tendon on the bone with repeated bending and straightening of the leg. The problem goes away when the growth plate fuses. The way to manage it is to have the child take a break from sports that stress that tendon. Ice and/or Ibuprofen will also help with the pain. Sometimes with a short period of rest (four to six weeks), a child can resume the sport again without pain. Protective knee pads may be helpful if direct contact is a problem. Osgood Slaughters disease is not an infection and is not contagious to other children.
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Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.