OSTEOCHONDRITIS

Osteochondritis in children

This group of conditions, which causes pain and disability, affects the growing skeleton of a child or adolescent and the surfaces of the joints (cartilage) in the knee. The diseases interrupt the blood supply to a bone which results in bone death (necrosis) and later regrowth of the bone.

Who is most at risk of osteochondritis?

Children and teenagers who take part in sport are more likely to develop the condition and it’s also more common in boys.

What are the symptoms of osteochondritis?

Symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness and/or weakness in the joint. There may also be a feeling of the joint ‘popping’ and, in some cases, locking.

How is osteochondritis diagnosed?

Adrian will discuss your child’s symptoms with you and carry out an examination of the knee to check for tenderness, stiffness, swelling and any difficulties with movement. In most cases, he will arrange for them to have an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. The final diagnosis is made with an MRI scan.

How is it treated?

In most cases, resting and taking the weight off the knee for a period of time will settle things. Adrian may also advise that your child has a course of physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the joint. However, in some cases, he may advise that your child has surgery to fix the bone and cartilage fragment that have partially detached.

Types of osteochondritis include:

Osgood-Schlatter disease

Pain and swelling in the bony lump that lies just below the kneecap can be caused by Osgood-Schlatter disease.

What causes Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused by a bone at the top of the shin bone becoming affected during a growth spurt. It’s more common if your child takes part in sports that include running and jumping or where there is repeated stress on the knees.

What are the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease?

The most common symptom is the formation of a bony growth where the patella tendon joins the shin bone.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease diagnosed?

Adrian will discuss your child’s symptoms with you and carry out an examination of the knee to check for tenderness, stiffness, swelling and any difficulties with movement. In most cases, he will arrange for them to have an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

How is Osgood-Schlatter disease treated?

In most cases, resting, along with taking painkillers (as prescribed by your doctor) is enough to relieve the symptoms and your child is likely to make a complete recovery by the time he or she stops growing. Surgery is only very rarely necessary. However, children with Osgood-Schlatter syndrome will still have a bony lump on the front of the shin bone, even after surgery.

Sinding-Larsen-Johansson syndrome

This painful condition often affects teenagers during growth spurts.

What causes Sinding-Larsen-Johansson syndrome?

It’s caused by repetitive strain on the patella tendon which causes the growth plate to become inflamed and painful. It’s more common in boys aged 10-15. It’s sometimes described as the childhood equivalent to jumper’s knee.

How is Sinding-Larsen-Johansson syndrome diagnosed?

Adrian will discuss your child’s symptoms with you and carry out an examination of the knee to check for tenderness, stiffness, swelling and any difficulties with movement. In most cases, he will arrange for them to have an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

How is Sinding-Larsen-Johansson syndrome treated?

In most cases, resting, along with taking painkillers (as prescribed by your doctor) is enough to relieve the symptoms and your child is likely to make a complete recovery by the time he or she stops growing. Surgery is only recommended in around 5% of cases.

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PATIENT STORIES

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