Dr. Kevin Yip

Dr Kevin Yip
Orthopaedic Surgeon
MBBS(UK), FRCS(EDIN), FAM(SING), FHKCOS(ORTHO)

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Osgood Schlatters Disease

What is Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is probably the most frequent cause of knee pain in children. The condition occurs most commonly in children between the ages of 9 and 16 years but it can occur in younger children. Both boys and girls are equally vulnerable to its debilitating effects. Osgood-Schlatter disease is always characterized by activity-related pain that occurs a few inches below the knee-cap, or patella, on the front of the knee.

The child will have swelling in the area, and tenderness to touch. Sports requiring lots of running, jumping, kneeling, and squatting are particularly associated. Many children first signal the start of the problem by rubbing the top of their “shinbones” with their hands, or even ice cubes, at practice sessions. The three main factors that contribute to Osgood-Schlatter are:

  • Between 9 and 16 years old.
  • Involved in youth sports.
  • In a “growth spurt”.

What are the symptoms?

Pain at the tibial tuberosity (or bony bit at the top of the shin) just below the knee

The tibial tuberosity may become swollen or inflamed and may even become more prominent than  the other side.

Tenderness and pain is worse during and after exercise.

Pain when contracting the quadriceps against resistance or when contracting the muscles with the leg straight.

What causes Osgood Schlatters disease?

The patella tendon inserts at the tibial tuberosity and through overuse can tug away at the bone causing inflammation. It is seen more often in children involved with running and jumping activities which put a much greater strain on the patella tendon.

With repeated trauma new bone grows back during the healing which causes a bony lump which is often felt at the tibial tuberosity. It mainly affects boys aged 10 to 15 years old and should clear up when they stop growing and the tendons become stronger, however, it can occasionally persist into adulthood.

What can the athlete do to treat Osgood-Schlatters disease?

Rest. This injury needs rest if it is to heal properly. Only do as much exercise as it will allow without causing pain. Weight bearing exercise will make it worse. Keep your sessions few and high quality rather than train every day.

Apply ice cold therapy to the knee regularly throughout the day to reduce pain and inflammation and particularly following activity or sport. Ice should be applied at least three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. Ice massage with an ice cube is a convenient way to apply cold therapy to a specific area such as the patella tendon.

stretch the quad muslces if comfortable to do so.

Use a knee support or knee strap to help reduce the tension on the knee.

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