Osgood-Schlatter’s is a very common cause of knee pain in adolescents while they are growing. The bump just below the kneecap, where the tendon from the kneecap (patella tendon) attaches to the shin (tibia), is called the tibial tuberosity. It is at this point, where the tendon attaches to the bone, that inflammation can occur during growth spurts. This is due to the presence of a growth plate under the tibial tuberosity, where the bone is still growing.
When a child is active they are frequently using the quadriceps muscle in the front of their thigh, which attaches to the patella tendon. Repeated use of this muscle can pull on the tendon and hence also where the tendon attaches to the bone (the tibial tuberosity). The tibial tuberosity can become soft and inflamed as a result, which leads to pain and swelling.
This condition is particularly common in children participating in sports where they are using the quadriceps muscle a lot, such as those with large amounts of running and jumping. Basketball, football and gymnastics are just some of the sports that Osgood Schlatter’s is common in. The knee pain is usually aggravated, or made worse, by exercise. Therefore, at times it may be necessary to scale back the amount of exercise your child is doing but usually there is no need to rest completely.
Osgood Schlatter’s usually settles when your child has finished growing and the growth plate has fused together. For girls this can be at the age of 14 years or 16 for boys. So don’t be too worried if the pain is taking a long time to settle! Even though it can take until the end of growing to settle, that doesn’t mean your child has to endure exercising through pain. There are many treatment options that can help manage your child’s symptoms so they can continue playing their sports! Book in with one of our physiotherapists today so that they can set a management plan specific to your child!