Prepping for Pediatric Problems: When “It’s Not a Tumor”
Are All Bony Growths Cancers? And… What is Osgood Schlatter Disease?
Sometimes we forget to include the kids in our medical preps. We also forget kids are not just small adults, at least not when viewed from a medical perspective. They have their own medical problems adults don’t experience. One of those problems involves the sudden appearance of a bony growth just below the knee. If you don’t know what it actually is when you first see it, then thoughts of cancer may bully their way into your mind. This can psychologically unhinge adults and kids alike – often at a time when more fear is the last thing you need.
Fortunately, not all bony growths are cancerous. The one shown above, and most visible below the right knee cap, is a frequent example. The disease is called Osgood Schlatter Disease, and you may of even had it yourself as a child.
OSD is thought to be caused by small injuries due to repeated overuse before the area has finished growing. It’s common in adolescents who play soccer, basketball, and volleyball, and who participate in gymnastics. If forced to travel over land on long treks to your BOL, it’s likely to be experienced by children traveling with you. This is because it occurs during growth spurts, and becomes more prevalent when combined with high levels of physical activity.
The repetitive motion of walking, especially with a heavy BOB, can cause multiple small fractures and inflammation of the tendon, leading to excess bone growth and producing a visible lump which can be very painful when hit. Activities such as kneeling may irritate the tendon further.
The main symptoms are painful swelling over a bump just below the knee. Symptoms occur in both legs about 30% of the time. The pain is mild and intermittent initially, but becomes more severe and continuous as the condition evolves. When you touch the area, you find it’s tender to light pressure, and the pain is worse with anything that jars or smacks against the knee.
Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, with or without acetaminophen (Tylenol) is helpful. Generally the recommendation is complete rest for 3 days, and then have minimal activity over then next 1-2 weeks.
Ice over the painful area, 2 to 3 times a day, for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, can also be combined with bracing. The brace used is called an infrapatellar strap, and is usually worn for 6 to 8 weeks. You can improvise one of these using a tennis elbow brace or with a Velcro venous tourniquet (lightly applied).
Take Home Message: A painful bony lump appearing below the knee in a child between 8 and 15 years of age is almost never cancer. It’s Osgood Schlatter Disease, and can be treated with Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and rest. Bracing with an infrapatellar strap for 6-8 weeks is also helpful, but the disease will eventually resolve as the child ages.
To find out more about medical preparedness for children, and bracing techniques, click on the book image above.