Osteochondritis of the tibia is a common cause of adult knee pain. It is an inflammation of the area just below the knee, where the patellar tendon is attached to the tibia.
It occurs most often during intense growth, when bones, muscles, and tendons develop and change relationships. Because sports activities stress the musculoskeletal system, children involved in them (running, jumping) are at a greater risk of developing osteochondritis. However, even teenagers who do not exercise can face the same problem.
In most cases rest, painkillers and stretching and strengthening exercises relieve pain and allow for a return to daily activities.
The bones of children and adolescents have a special area where the bone develops and is called the growth plate or epiphyseal plate. Simply put, the epiphyseal plates consist of cartilage and lie between the metaphysis and the epiphysis. At the completion of development, the plates are ossified.
The tibial curvature is a secondary osteogenesis core, and is at the same time an adhesion point of the patellar tendon. When a child is active or exercising, the quadriceps exerts pressure on the tendon of the patella, which in turn pulls tibial curvature. In some children, this recurrent force on the curvature leads to a disorder of intra-osteogenesis and consequently to local pain. At the same time, the tibial curvature is enlarged.
The painful symptoms are triggered during running, jumping, and other sports-related activities. In some cases, both knees may be affected, although one knee usually presents more severe symptoms than the other.
The most common symptoms are:
- Knee pain and tenderness in the tibial curvature
- Edema in the tibial curvature
- Contraction of muscles in the anterior or posterior part of the femur
During clinical examination, the orthopedist should thoroughly investigate the symptoms of the young patient. A detailed clinical examination identifies the exact area of pain. Pressure on the tibial curvature confirms the diagnosis of osteochondritis. In addition, the doctor may ask the child to kneel or perform some jumps. Finally, imaging with x-rays excludes any other pathology.
The treatment of osteochondritis should focus on alleviating pain and edema. This usually requires immediate restriction of activities until the child feels able to return to them. In some cases, abstinence from sports can take up to several months, followed by an intensive strengthening program. In the event that the child does not feel any pain, participation in sports activities is completely safe.
In the alternative case, the Orthopedist can recommend:
- Stretching exercises (quadriceps and biceps)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen)
RESULTS – FORECAST
Most symptoms occur during skeletal maturation, around 14 years old for girls and 16 for boys. For this reason, surgery has no special place in the case of osteochondritis.