Osgood Schlatter's disease is common in kids

Osgood Schlatter’s syndrome

Stephanie Korolis,is a physiotherapist with a special interest in young athletes and their injuries.  She presents this primer on Osgood Schlatter’s Syndrome, also known as Osgood Schlatter’s Disease.

It is an extremely common cause of knee pain in children and adolescents.


What is Osgood Schlatter’s syndrome?

Osgood Schlatter (OS) syndrome is a painful knee condition that typically affects young and active children or adolescents.  Boys are more commonly affected than girls.

Ages where OS is most common can vary anywhere from 11-15 years in boys and 8-13 in girls.


 What are the signs and symptoms?

Patients will commonly present with a gradual onset of pain, tenderness and sometimes swelling over the tibial tubercle (aka tibial tuberosity).

The tibial tubercle is the point at which the patellar tendon joins the shin bone just below the knee cap.

Osgood Schlatter's syndrome

Osgood Schlatter’s syndrome affects the tibial tubercle, where the patellar tendon attaches onto the tibia.

The patellar tendon is how the quadriceps muscle (the muscle group at the front of your thigh, aka the ‘driver’) attaches to the shin to make the knee straighten.

The patellar tendon and quadriceps is involved in walking, running, jumping, hopping and squatting.

As a result, OS-related pain is also exacerbated by activities that involve repetitive straightening knees as well as high impact activities.

Patients will often complain of pain with any of these activities as well as discomfort with kneeling. In the later stages of the condition, quadriceps weakness can be found.  It is common to see and feel a small bump/lump over the tibial tubercle.


What causes it?

It is thought that repetitive contractions of the quadriceps muscle cause a traction force on the insertion site at the tibial tubercle, stressing the growing immature bone, which explains a higher incidence in active children or adolescence.

Around half of children affected have also reported prior knee injuries, which may be a risk factor in developing the condition.


Physiotherapy treatment for Osgood Schlatter’s syndrome

Your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment which will include checking movement patterns of the hip, knee, ankle and foot, assessing muscle strength, muscle length.  Any imbalances can then be addressed that are contributing to the problem.

A period of rest is often required from high impact activities.

Timing of return to sport is often an important decision, and this can be guided by your physiotherapist and it depends on how the symptoms are behaving.

The physio will also prescribe specific exercises depending on their assessment findings. One of the common reasons for developing Osgood Schlatter’s syndrome is tight thigh and calf muscles.  In that case, manual therapy and soft tissue release can also assist pain and quicker recovery.

Ice may also temporarily assist pain.

The condition tends to phase out as the growth plate closes over.

A strong tip – the “no pain no gain” philosophy is not going to work with OS – stretching or exercise that creates or worsens pain can slow down or stop progress.

Your physiotherapist will work with you and your child to prescribe or modify exercises and activities. Symptoms may linger or fluctuate for months, but most children do well with conservative management.

Osgood Schlatter’s syndrome should not go untreated.

If you think you have a child with Osgood Schlatter’s Syndrome, please don’t hesitate to call us on 8356 1000.  

Have a free chat with Steph to see if it would be worthwhile assessing your child further.  You can also book in for a free preassessment session with her by ringing 8356 1000, or by clicking on the Online Booking button at the top of the page.