What is Osgood Schlatters?

man holding hands sore knee
Osgood Schlatters is a condition that causes pain just below the knee cap in children. It normally affects boys between the ages of 13 and 15 and girls between the ages of 10 and 12 years. This is the most common injury that I see amongst children in Southend United’s academy. The pain occurs on an area called the tibial tuberosity which is a bony point just below the knee cap. This bony point is where the patella tendon inserts onto from the thigh muscles. The main cause of pain is a recent, rapid growth spurt. During a growth spurt, the bones are growing at a rapid rate that overstretches the muscles and pulls on the muscle insertion on the tibial tuberosity. Osgood Schlatters is most likely to develop in children that also do a lot of sporting activity, particularly sports that require running, jumping and kicking.

The main symptom is a recent growth spurt combined with lots of activity. There will be lots of pain in the area just below the knee cap during activity that will start to clear when activity stops. There may be some swelling and inflammation over the knee area and at times the tibial tuberosity may appear thicker or larger than normal.

The main cure for Osgood Schlatters is rest. This gives time for the muscles, tendons and ligaments to heal properly, however the pain can last for several months or years in some cases until the particular growth spurt stops. Immediate things to be doing are to use ice on the injured knee or knees daily for 15-20 minutes and take painkillers if extremely painful. A sport therapist can also do a lot to reduce the pain, improve performance and reduce the chances of pain with any further growth spurts. Massage of the thigh muscles helps to reduce the effects of the stretch being placed on them by the growth spurt. Along with other treatment techniques such as specific stretches and a tailored rehabilitation programme a Sports Therapist is vital to see. If Osgood Schlatters goes untreated then it is highly likely to have an effect when the next growth spurt occurs, will decrease sporting ability and cause pain when the child moves into adult hood.

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