What is Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease?

Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease (OSD) affects children between the ages of 8-12 in girls and 12-15 in boys and affects the knee, in particular the tibia bone. It’s a common cause of knee pain in young, athletic adolescents and can be confused with growing pains, although it’s entirely a separate condition.

What exactly is Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease?

OSD is an overuse injury where repetitive extension of the knee can strain and irritate the growth plate in the tibia. This can lead to small tears, fractures and inflammation in the knee and present as swelling, pain and tenderness.

What are the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease?

  • Pin-point pain at the front of the knee joint
  • You may (not always) have a visible bump protruding out at the site of pain
  • Pain after sport or exercise including running and/or jumping
  • Swelling
  • Most cases will only be present in 1 knee, however, a small portion of 20-30% may experience OSD in both knees
  • Tightness in the front of the knee or quadriceps muscle

Risk factors for developing OSD:

  • Boys are more likely to develop this than girls
  • Boys aged 12-15 and girls aged 8-12
  • Any sudden spikes in skeletal growth
  • Repetitive use of the quadriceps muscle such as running, sprinting or jumping
  • Quad tightness and improper mechanics during change of direction

The more risk factors you have, the more your risk increases

Can Physiotherapy help Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease?

Yes, absolutely. OSD can present similarly to several other musculoskeletal conditions and an assessment by one of our physios will help to gauge whether it is in fact OSD, or something else that needs attention

Once properly diagnosed, treatment usually consists:

  • Soft tissue massage over the quads in the case it is tight.
  • A load management program to reduce the load/amount of exercise for a period of time to allow the knee to settle down.
  • Exercises to further train other muscles in the legs, which will in turn prevent the Quads from overworking
  • Agility training to address biomechanical issues related to OSD
  • Developing a return to running program
  • Providing advice around how to manage painful days, using Ice-packs for pain relief, how to foam-roll at home and warm-up correctly before exercise.

Rehab of OSD usually takes 2-3 months of de-loading and loading back up. Pushing through and waiting for OSD to pass on its own very rarely occurs as the continual stress on bone slowly causes more trauma to the area and in severe cases can lead to an avulsion fractures.

If your child is experiencing any knee pain, it is always important to have them assessed by a Physiotherapist and develop a plan for them to get back into the sport they love.

Do I need to use an ice pack?

Demystifying Growing Pains

What is Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease?