Osgood-Schlatters Disease is a common cause of knee pain in children and adolescents. Pain is felt at the front of the knee, and approximately 5cm below the knee cap on the bony prominence towards the top of the shin bone called the “tibial tuberosity”. Although the use of the word “disease” can be frightening, with correct diagnosis and management it doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. Most importantly, unlike other diseases, Osgood-Schlatters isn’t contagious!
Technical definition alert…. Osgood Schlatter’s Disease is a tibial tuberosity apophysitis. Alternatively, it can simply be referred to as a specific type of “growing pain”, whereby the growth plate becomes irritated by overuse (the tendon that runs from your kneecap attaches onto the growth plate).
Both boys and girls can develop Osgood Scclatter’s disease, with adolescents who are active during growth spurts most vulnerable. Generally speaking, boys between 11-15 years and girls between 8-13 years old. Sports that lead to repetitive, strong quadriceps muscle contractions are at most risk; football, dance, gymnastics, basketball soccer etc. The effect of such repetitive and strong quadriceps muscle contractions is high pulling forces being placed on maturing bone at the growth plate.
What are the symptoms?
- Localised pain at the tibial tuberosity (bony prominence at the top of the shin bone). This area will tender to touch and possibly swollen
- Intermittent pain, aggravated by exercises such as running and jumping
- Pain on direct pressure to the area e.g kneeling
- Often pain will linger after sport through to bedtime
- Quadriceps muscle tightness and weakness may be observed
Primarily made following a clinical assessment. X-ray imaging is occasionally used to exclude alternative causes of pain in some cases. Further imaging such as MRI is rarely required.
In the majority of cases, Osgood-Schlatters Disease can be successfully managed in physiotherapy. Mild cases may settle in a matter of weeks, while most cases may take a few months to settle with conservative management. In severe cases, symptoms may linger until the growth plate matures.
Correct diagnosis and treatment is vital to reduce pain, and prevent cases progressing to a stage where the growth plate can sustain and tolerate greater forces. Physiotherapy treatment can include the following:
- Education on the condition, pacing and activity modification
- Exercise therapy to work on identified deficits e.g quadriceps strengthening or stretching
- Taping may reduce symptom severity
- Massage may also reduce symptom severity
- Ice therapy
Physiotherapy has been proven to an effective method in managing Osgood-Schlatter’s. If you think your child may be presenting with Osgood-Schlatter Disease then call LifeCare Kingsway Physiotherapy today for an assessment.
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