Osgood Schlatter disease or Osgood Schlatter lesion is a very common cause of knee pain in children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old. It was named after two physicians in 1903, Dr. Robert Osgood and Dr. Carl Schlatter.
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment is essential as this injury can be stubborn to treat if left.
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 but usually improves with rest. The athlete is likely to experience pain when contracting the quadriceps muscles or performing squat type exercises.
Osgood Schlatter syndrome is primarily an over use injury although certain factors can increase the likelihood of sustaining this condition.
Age - It is more likely to affect boys aged around 13 to 15 years old than girls, although girls certainly can be affected and if they are it is more likely to occur earlier at about aged 10 to 12 years old. it is often put down to growing pains in knees. Obviously this is a general guide and ages can vary. It occurs due to a period of rapid growth, combined with a high level of sporting activity. Osgood Schlatter in adults can occur, especially if it has not been looked after during teenage years but is more unusual.
Activity - As the young athletes bones grow quickly, it can take some time for the muscles and tendons to catch up. These changes result in a pulling force from the patella tendon, on to the tibial tuberosity 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.
Read more on causes and prevention.
Osgood Schlatter Treatment
Treatment for Osgood Schlatters disease consists of reducing pain and inflammation by applying the PRICE principles of protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation along with longer term managing the condition through training modification and educating the athlete or parent until the young athlete grows out of it.
Apply a cold therapy and compression wrap 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 also 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.
Rest is the most important element of treatment. Only do as much exercise as it will allow without causing pain. Weight bearing exercise will make Osgood Schlatters disease worse. Keep your sessions few and high quality rather than training every day.
Use a patella knee strap or patella tendon taping technique to help reduce the tension on and support 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.
A Doctor may prescribe NSAID's or anti inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen to help reduce pain and inflammation, although this is not good to rely on long term, or mask how bad the condition actually is. Athletes with asthma should not take Ibuprofen.
Once normal daily activities are pain free then gentle stretching exercises may be beneficial along with massage for the quadriceps muscles and myofascial release techniques to help stretch the muscles can help ensure they are strong enough to cope with the loads placed on them as well as not being too tight.
Read more on treatment for Osgood Schlatters Disease.