Osgood Schlatter's Disease - Knee Pain in Children

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why are kids different?

Kids are growing! Due to the rapid rate at which sometimes they grow, tendons and ligaments may grow at different rates to bone for instance. The same can be said of the strength of muscles in relation to the size of the body they are growing into. Sometimes it can takes months or years for the growing body to ‘catch up’ to where it needs to be to support its size. As a general rule, if your child grows slow and steady, you may have less issues than someone who has huge bursts of growth!

So with these changes of the size of their bones, muscles, tendons and habits, comes injuries and dysfunctions.

Osgood Schlatter’s Disease is not really a disease, it is more of a syndrome, or lesion. It is more common in boys than in girls, and comes on in early adolescence. Specifically, it is an abnormal growth of the TIBIAL TUBEROSITY, which is the attachment point for the patella tendon.


The cause for OS is firstly fast growth, but the pain associated with it can be made worse by various risk factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Muscular tightness
  • Impact
  • Poor alignment


Symptoms include pain over the bony growth. This pain can be dull at rest and sharp on activity. Kids who have this syndrome will usually complain of pain whilst:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Landing
  • Stairs
  • Sitting for long periods
  • Kneeling


Treatment is very much a management thing. The syndrome itself is self limiting and the child will usually grow out of it. However the effects of the pain can be quite limiting for sports and endeavours the child likes to participate in. It is through management of the symptoms that they may play and do normal sport and activity. Ways to control the pain and help are:

  • RICE regime when painful
  • Isolating the painful triggers and reducing them when necessary
  • Improving the stability of the pelvis and lower limb
  • Improving the alignment and lower limb mechanics
  • Taking pressure off the point with taping and braces
  • The use of impact orthotics to aid in load transference
  • Muscle stretching of tight structures that may be contributing.


Being a self limiting syndrome, the child will grow out of it with little complications. It can be present for a few months, up to a couple of years in longer cases. See your physio if you need help in managing this condition.

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