Osgood-Schlatter syndrome (or disease) is a painful knee condition that tends to affect adolescents. Boys are affected more than girls, although this could be due to differing activity patterns. It is thought that around 13 per cent of adolescent knee pain is due to Osgood-Schlatter syndrome.
It often occurs during a growth spurt and is associated with physical activity. It is thought that the tendon attaching the quadriceps muscles to the shin bone becomes tight and causes inflammation and micro-fractures in the tibial tuberosity.
The tibial tuberosity swells and feels painful during certain activities such as running, kneeling, or stair climbing. Osgood-Schlatter syndrome usually resolves by itself with time.
The symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter syndrome depend on the severity of the condition, but may include:
Pain in one or both knees
Pain when straightening the knee joint or full squatting
Pain on running, or going up and down stairs
Pain that eases with rest
Swollen tibial tuberosity
Red and inflamed skin over the tibial tuberosity
Quadriceps muscles that can sometimes lose strength and bulk.
Some of the causes of Osgood Schlatter syndrome may include:
Growth spurt – the condition tends to affect adolescent children. Affected boys are often aged about 13 to 14 years, while affected girls are often aged 10 to11 years.
Exercise – active children, particularly those engaged in athletics and sports, are at increased risk.
Gender – boys are more susceptible than girls, but perhaps this is because boys typically play more vigorous sports.
Injury – around half of all children with the condition report a prior knee injury.
Common Management Techniques
Activity modification or relative rest – completely avoiding activities that are painful for at least a couple of weeks followed by gradual return to activity guided by symptom levels
Frequent use of icepacks to reduce the local pain and swelling
Stretching and strengthening exercises for the quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles – a suitable program can be provided by a physiotherapist
Medications, including painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs
Osgood-Schlatter syndrome usually resolves by itself within 12 months. However, the knee may remain uncomfortable until the growing finishes.