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Osgood Schlatters Disease
Osgood Schlatters disease is a very common cause of pain in children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old just below the knee at the top of the tibia or shin bone.
Symptoms of Osgood Schlatters disease
Symptoms of Osgood Schlatters disease typically consist of pain at the tibial tuberosity or bony bit at the top of the shin. The tibial tuberosity may become swollen or inflamed and may even become more prominent than normal. Tenderness and pain is worse during and after exercise and the athlete is likely to experience pain when contracting the quadriceps muscles or performing squat type exercises.
Osgood Schlatters disease explained
It was named after two physicians in 1903, Dr. Robert Osgood and Dr. Carl Schlatter. These Doctors defined the disease.
Osgood Schlatters disease is a very common cause of knee pain in children and young athletes usually between the ages of 10 and 15. It occurs due to a period of rapid growth, combined with a high level of sporting activity.
These changes result in a pulling force from the patella tendon, on to the tibial tuberosity which is the bony protrusion at the top of the shin. This area then becomes inflamed, painful and swollen. This is frequent in younger people because their bones are still soft and are not yet fully grown. It is seen more often in children involved with running and jumping activities which put a much greater strain on the patella tendon.
With repeated trauma new bone grows back during the healing process which causes a bony lump often felt at the tibial tuberosity. It mainly affects boys aged 10 to 15 years old and should clear up when they stop growing and the tendons become stronger, however, it can occasionally persist into adulthood.
Treatment for Osgood Schlatters disease
What can the athlete do?
Rest is the most important element of Osgood Schlatters disease treatment. Only do as much exercise as it will allow without causing pain. Weight bearing exercise will make it worse. Keep your sessions few and high quality rather than training every day.
Apply ice or cold therapy to the knee regularly throughout the day to reduce pain and inflammation and particularly following activity or sport. Ice should be applied at least three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. If it is particularly painful then ice can be applied for 10 minutes every hour. Ice massage with an ice cube is a convenient way to apply cold therapy to a specific area such as the patella tendon. Keep the ice moving as applying directly to the skin can cause ice burns.
Gently stretch the quadriceps muscles if comfortable to do so. Osgood Schlatters coincides with a growth spurt so if the bone has grown too quickly leaving the muscle tendon unit tight then stretching will help.
Use a patella knee strap or patella tendon taping technique to help reduce the tension on the knee. A patella strap or taping can absorb some of the shock or impact and change the angle the forces are transmitted through the tendon. It can be worn all the time if the knee is painful. A full neoprene knee support can keep the tendon warm and support the whole joint. It may be trial and error to see which type works best for you.
What can a sports injury professional do?
Make a correct diagnosis to confirm the existence of Osgood Schlatters disease and make sure it is not anything else causing the pain. A big part of managing Osgood Schlatters disease is educating the patient, parents and coaches about the condition and the importance of not over training.
They may use sports massage techniques on the quadriceps muscles and myofascial release techniques to help stretch the muscles. Ensuring the muscles are strong enough to cope with the loads placed on them is important. A sports injury professional will be able to advise on an exercise program that will allow the athlete to do as much exercise as possible and get the best results from your training.
In extremely severe cases they may do an X-ray to see exactly how much damage has occurred. A plaster cast can be applied for three weeks if pain is severe.