Expert Interviews Osgood Schlatters Disease

Physiotherapist Neal Reynolds talks about managing Osgood Schlatters disease for the aspiring young athlete.

Osgood Schlatters disease explained

Osgood Schlatters Disease is very common in football and a lot of other sports. In simple terms it is a reaction where the patella tendon inserts into the tibia or shin bone. Over a period of time it tends to get worse and worse and you get a pulling of the tendon at the growth plate where the tendon attaches.

It is so much related to activity in terms of how much training you are doing will have a large effect. I think growth will also have a large effect as well. You will see players which are shooting up and getting taller and that is when they will get their reaction with Osgood Schlatters being related to that. It can be very painful and debilitating with players missing a lot of football training because of it. That area of the knee cannot cope with the stresses and strains which are being put through it, especially when you get to a professional academy level of training where the intensity of training is higher and goes on for longer.

Managing Osgood Schlatters disease

Treatment wise the first thing to do is try to get the area to calm down. So the usual principles especially when you get the first episode of pain of icing it, using compression to let the area settle. The main thing out of all though is rest and what you have to do is adjust the amount of training that is going on. That for me is the most important thing along with education of the child, the parent and the coaches. That for me is the most important part.

If you get that bit right then you can manage the condition. What will happen is the pain will settle down then you go back to the usual levels of training. Then it will get to a stage again where it is inflamed and you will need to rest and calm it down again.

That will be the pattern that quite a few children will do for years and years. They can still get enough training done so they can improve technically so they still have a chance of making it as a professional sports person. But if you keep pushing and pushing and ignore it then you might end up with a situation where it is so painful that you could miss 12 months or more of training and that then could end the chances of that child achieving a career in professional sport.

So if you can manage it and go in and out, in and out of training and competition then I think you have a better chance of getting on top of the condition. So advisory and resting is the main treatment for Osgood Schlatters disease.

Sports podiatrist Ian Sadler

Osgood schlatters occurs where the patella tendon inserts into the tibial tuberosity at the front of the upper shin bone.

The mechanical movements which cause damage are made worse by a poor blood supply caused by bone growth. The pull of the quadriceps muscles on the tendon means the tendon pulls on its bony attachment.

It is important to treat the underlying biomechanical cause, but rest is a very important part of treatment and the condition should pass. However, if you cause a lot of damage there then you might get further problems later on down the road.