Untitled design (28)Osgood-Schlatters disease is an irritation of the patella (knee) ligament at the site of the top of shinbone (tibia) and causes knee pain in children as they approach puberty and are beginning their growth spurt. It is most common in boys aged 13-15 and in girls 10 to 12 and is the result of excessive loading on the top of the shin bone by the patellar tendon. Bone and soft tissues grow at different rate.  The growth plate which is located at the top of the shin bone is usually a site of weakness and as children exercise their tendons and muscles stress this area causing it to become inflamed and at times making simple movements extremely painful.

What are the associated symptoms?

Osgood-Schlatters is usually associated with high levels of activity during a period of rapid growth. There is usually no pain at rest and most symptoms occur with exercise/loading.  Symptoms include:

  • Pain below the patella that worsens with exercise
  • Relief from pain with rest
  • Swelling or tenderness under the knee and over the shinbone
  • Limping after exercise or tightness of the muscles surrounding the knee i.e. hamstring or quadriceps.

How do I fix it?

Management consists of reassurance that the condition is self-limiting. Whether or not to play sport depends on the severity of the injury. Children with mild symptoms can continue to play some or all sport as their pain allows.  Rest will usually ease the pain but there is no evidence to suggest that rest will accelerate the healing process. It is important to note that the amount of sport played does not affect the time taken for the pain to disappear. As the muscles, tendons and bones continue to grow they will eventually even out and pain will disappear.

Physiotherapy can help with massage and stretching of the quadriceps and to correct any predisposing abnormalities. The need for any surgical intervention is extremely rare.