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Osteochondrosis (Perthes' disease, Osgood-Schlatter's disease)

This condition affects the bone, and is similar whichever part of the skeleton is affected. But, according to the site, it is known by different names. For example, if the condition affects the hip, it is known as Perthes' disease and if the front of the leg immediately below the knee joint is affected it is known as Osgood-Schlatter's disease. The X-ray appearances of both hip and knee are similar in each case; the bone of the affected joint is weakened, and the blood-supply limited. Fortunately, with adequate treatment, this condition is corrected and rarely leaves any after-effects.

Signs and symptoms of osteochondrosis

1 Perthes' disease of the hip most commonly affects boys aged five to twelve. The child will complain of pain in the hip, or the knee, of the affected leg. He will also have a noticeable limp.

A condition known as 'slipped epiphesis', in a slightly older age group can be confused with Perthes' disease. The symptoms of pain and limp are due, in this case, to the growth line of the upper part of the thigh bone growing unevenly and so 'slipping'. Treatment is again by immobilization in plaster.

2 Osgood-Schlatter's disease usually occurs in a slightly older age group, most commonly the early teenage years. Girls and boys are equally affected. Pain over the bony prominence immediately below the knee is the worst symptom; frequently there is swelling and may be redness. The sufferer will limp because of the discomfort, and any form of sport is uncomfortable - it is often children that are particularly keen on sport who suffer from this condition.

Treatment for osteochondrosis

No other treatment than rest - and perhaps aspirin for the pain if this is severe - is necessary.

In Perthes' disease this rest for the hip-joint must be total. So it is necessary for the child to be in plaster for some months to rest this usually very mobile joint. This can be trying for an active child, especially as the leg has to be plastered at a right angle to the body to obtain the best results. This can also cause problems of mobility - for example, moving through a doorway can be difficult. But it is surprising how well children - and parents and school teachers - adapt. With perseverance of this treatment the bone can be restored to its normal strength and shape. There are no after-effects.

Osgood-Schlatter's disease also requires rest for control of symptoms and for the bone to become whole again. Often, avoidance of all sport and the minimum of walking for a few months is all that is needed. But, occasionally, rest in a plaster is required. Again, there are no after-effects.

Osteochondrosis is a disease entirely confined to childhood. Fortunately, with rest, it is also easily controlled. Rest in the young is difficult to enforce, but parents should do their best. Children of this age should be able to understand the necessity for this rest if given an explanation as to what is happening to their hips or legs.

     
     

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