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Osgood Schlatter’s Disease: Not Really A Disease

Osgood Schlatter’s Disease: Not Really A Disease
Osgood Schlatter’s Disease: Not Really A Disease

What Is Osgood Schlatter’s Disease?

Osgood Schlatter’s Disease is a common cause of knee pain in growing adolescents. The basic anatomy of the area is that at the front of your thigh your quadriceps muscle attaches to the shin bone just below the knee cap via a thick tendon called the patella tendon. At the point of attachment of this patella tendon to the shin bone is a visually obvious bony bump called the tibial tuberosity.
In Osgood Schlatter’s Disease it is thought to be the abnormal growth of this tibial tuberosity that causes the pain with the condition often occurring during a growth spurt and associated with physical activity.
Hence Osgood-Schlatter’s disease is a common cause of knee pain in children between the ages of 10 and 14 years and more commonly affecting boys than girls. When someone has Osgood Schlatter’s Disease the tibial tuberosity swells and feels painful to touch and during certain activities such as running, jumping, kneeling, stair climbing…

Note: Osgood Schlatter’s Disease is not really a disease, it is more of a syndrome related to the abnormal growth of the tibial tuberosity (the attachment point for the patella tendon).

What Makes Kids Different?

Due to the rapid rate at which kids can grow, simply put their muscles, tendons and ligaments may grow at different rates to their bone. The strength of muscles in relation to the size of the body they are growing into may not be balanced. And in some kids this can take months or even years for their growing body to ‘catch up’ to where it needs to be to be capable to support its size allowing them to function and operate in a more biomechanically ideal state. So with these changes in the size of their bones, muscles, and tendons as they grow it may carry with it dysfunctions and injuries. Osgood Schlatter’s disease is one such condition.

What Are The Causes Of Osgood Schlatter’s Disease?

Osgood Schlatter’s disease is firstly related to growing fast or a growth spurt. The condition tends to affect adolescent children. With boys often aged about 13 to 14 years, while affected girls are often aged 10 to11 years. Some of the causes of Osgood Schlatter’s may include:

  • Gender: As a rule boys are more susceptible than girls, but this may be because boys typically engage in more vigorous sports than girls.
  • Exercise: Active children are more at risk particularly those engaged in athletics and sports, that involve a significant amount of running and jumping.
  • Muscle tightness and poor alignment may also be risk factors for developing Osgood Schlatter’s disease.
  • Injury: It is suggested that around half of all children with Osgood Schlatter’s disease report a prior knee injury to the onset of the condition.

Symptoms Of Osgood Schlatter’s Disease

Symptoms of Osgood Schlatter’s disease depends on the severity of the condition but is firstly recognized by the kid having pain located to the tibial tuberosity (the bony growth below the knee). This pain may be accompanied with a visually swollen tibial tuberosity as well as red and inflamed skin over the area. This may be in one or both knees and if severe enough and persistent enough it may even lead to the individuals quadriceps muscles losing strength and bulk due to pain induced disuse.

  • The pain can be dull at rest and sharp on activity and kids will normally complain of pain when running, jumping, going up and down stairs.
  • Kneeling on the area is normally painful as is the area being bumped or knocked during activity.
  • Kids may even have discomfort when straightening the knee joint and doing squatting movements.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Osgood Schlatter’s Disease: Not Really A Disease should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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