Knee pain common in sporty teens
Linda Calabresi is a GP and medical editor of MedicalObserver. Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org My 14-year-old grandson has been having a problem with his knee for over a month. His doctor says he has Osgood Schlatter disease. He is a keen basketballer — is this problem going to affect him long-term? Is he likely to get arthritis in that knee when he gets older? OSGOOD Schlatter disease is a common cause of knee pain in teenagers, particularly in boys who are heavily into sport. While it can be triggered by an injury to the knee, it is more likely to occur at the time of a growth spurt. Strictly speaking, the problem is not within the knee joint itself, which means it is not associated with an increased risk of developing arthritis at a later date. In Osgood Schlatter disease, the repeated contraction of the quadriceps muscle at the front of the thigh causes pain, tenderness and swelling at point where it attaches to the growing bone, at the tibial tuberosity, on the shin just below the knee. The problem usually gets better by itself within a year. But initially it is recommended to avoid activities that aggravate the pain until the more severe symptoms settle. This usually takes about six weeks, so your grandson’s sporting activities should be curtailed temporarily. A physiotherapist can often help and they can also recommend exercises that will promote recovery. It would be very rare to have any long-term problems associated with Osgood Schlatter disease. Two weeks ago my husband, who is 64 and fit and well, had an episode where his speech became slurred. It only lasted about 20 minutes and afterwards he was completely fine. He put it down to exertion as he had been working in the garden. Is this possible? THIS might sound alarming, but it is imperative your husband goes and has a medical check-up as soon as he can. While there are a number of possible reasons for his episode, one of the most important is that it could have been a ‘‘ transient ischaemic attack’’, or TIA. A TIA is a stroke that lasts less than 24 hours and from which there is a full recovery. It results from a blood clot temporarily blocking a blood vessel in the brain, and it is a strong warning sign of an impending full-blown stroke. About 20 per cent of people who have a TIA go on to have a major stroke within the next three months. He needs to see a doctor to determine if it was a TIA and, if it was, from where the blood clot originated. The good news is that, in the great majority of TIA cases, the risk of an impending stroke can be significantly reduced, commonly through blood-thinning medication and aggressive treatment of other risk factors such as high blood pressure. I am36 weeks’ pregnant with my first child and have just started developing stretch marks on my stomach. What causes these — and can I do anything to prevent them? STRETCH marks are unfortunately very common in the late stages of pregnancy. They occur when the fibres of the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin, tear at the point of greatest stress. Any rapid weight gain can cause stretch marks. What sort of skin you have inherited will largely determine whether you get stretch marks. As for preventing these stretch marks, there is no guaranteed solution. You need to watch your diet to avoid excess weight gain and maintain skin health, and drink plenty of fluids so you are not dehydrated. The value of creams and lotions in preventing stretch marks remains controversial; most studies show they don’t work.