Osgood Schlatters Disease – Knee Pain in Kids

Published: 16 Sep 2021

Osgood Schlatters Disease – Knee Pain in Kids

There are many growth plate areas that can be irritated in adolescent children.  We’ve written about Sever’s Disease before, another common area is the knee. This condition is known as Osgood Schlatters Disease or syndrome.

Osgood Schlatters is a common cause of knee pain in adolescent children who are physically active. Boys are more likely to develop Osgood Schlatter’s than girls as they usually participate in explosive sports such as basketball, soccer, athletics, AFL and football.

What is it?

Pain located at the bone below the kneecap in active adolescents. 

Why and how does this happen?

There is a group of large muscles in the front of your thigh known as the quadriceps. These muscles together form a large tendon and attaches onto the shin bone (tibia) via the knee cap (patella). The attachment site of the quadriceps is on a small bump below the patella (you can feel it if you rub below your knee). This attachment site is a growth area. Growth areas tend to be softer than mature bones, and this is why they are more susceptible to injury and irritation. If the quadriceps is tight and is frequently used at high intensities, it can pull on the growth plate and cause irritation.

Osgood Schlatters InjuryWhat sports are these seen in?

These conditions are commonly seen in sports such as:

  • Basketball 
  • Volleyball 
  • Sprinting 
  • Gymnastics
  • Football 

Risk factors:

  • Boys aged 10-15
  • Girls aged 8-12 
  • Sudden skeletal growth spurt 
  • Repetitive activities such as jumping, running and sprinting 
  • Quadriceps tightness

Signs and symptoms of Osgood Schlatters include:

  • Atraumatic, insidious onset of knee pain  – which means, knee pain that comes on without an obvious incident or injury)
  • Swelling around the small bump below the patella (can be one or both sides)
  • Pain when the attachment of the tendon is touched
  • Pain with running, jumping, kicking, ascending or descending stairs
  • Rest helps ease the pain
  • Straightening the knee and squatting is painful

What can you do to help reduce pain and discomfort?

  • Physiotherapy
  • Rest and modify level of physical activity to reduce pain 
  • Ice the knee after exercise if it is painful to reduce inflammation
  • Stretch and foam roll the muscles in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf
  • Strengthening of the quads, hamstrings and calf 
  • Strapping

If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms above and you are worried about their knee, come and see one of our Physiotherapists for some advice.