Growing Pains – Osgood Schlatter’s

Osgood-Schlatter’s is a painful condition that affects growing children temporarily, often referred to as growing pains in the knees. It tends to affect active and growing kids, often between the ages of 8 and 15, and causes pain and swelling just below the kneecap.

What causes Osgood Schlatter’s?

Just like in Sever’s, to explain how Osgood Schlatter’s is caused, we must first explain that while bones are growing, they have areas called ‘growth plates’. Growth plates are vulnerable, cartilaginous areas located towards the ends of growing bones. It’s here that new bone is added, and will eventually turn into solid bone when we reach full maturity.

The painful symptoms of Osgood Schlatter’s Disease are caused by abnormal tension and forces at the top of the knee that irritate or damage the growth plate just below the knee. Damage occurs because the growth plate is vulnerable as it’s still developing and is not yet solid like the surrounding bone, so is unable to withstand the tensile forces or high load that it can be exposed to.

This is often thought to be caused by the repetitive pull from the quadriceps on the top of the shin bone (tibia), where it inserts after crossing the knee as the patellar tendon. Other contributing factors may include:

Tight muscles around the knee and shin bone

Repetitive high-impact activities, such as running and jumping

Faster rate of growth of the femur relative to the quadricep muscles

Injury to the knee and/or tibia

What are the symptoms?

Pain, swelling and tenderness just below the kneecap during movement

Inflammation at the front of and just below the knee

Pain exacerbated by sporting activities such as running

Pain on pressing just below the knee

Pain when bending the knee and kneeling

If the pain is extreme, an avulsion fracture may have occurred. You should bring your child to see a Podiatrist immediately to help determine if this is a possibility and send you for appropriate imaging studies where required, such as an x-ray.

Small child completing foot exercises

How is Osgood-Schlatter’s treated?

While mild cases of Osgood Schlatter Disease may resolve fairly quickly, others may suffer from painful symptoms for years. Treatment starts with first alleviating the pain, and then addressing the cause of the problem to stop the symptoms returning. This may include:

Orthotics – to help with any biomechanical issues with the feet or legs that may be placing more tension on the quads and knee

Footwear assessment – to ensure the shoes are helping and not hindering recovery

Stetching – to address tight muscles and reduce their strain

Strengthening – weak muscles

Footwear Assessment – to ensure the footwear is not aggravating the heel pain

Education – around the importance of warming up before activity and tips on helping reduce the strain from the quadriceps to the shin bone

The treatment plan we prescribe is completely tailored to your child’s symptoms and the results of their comprehensive biomechanical examination. This helps us identify the often multiple causes of the pulling force, and hence the best way to help alleviate their painful symptoms. Despite the pain being located just below the knees, even the position and alignment of the feet can have a big impact on the severity of the symptoms.

Ready to get your child back on the field and feeling good on their feet?

Book online or get in touch
with us today

Ready to get your child back on the field and feeling good on their feet?

Book online or get in touch with us today