What is Osgood Schlatters?
Does your child complain of sore knees during or after sport? In many cases, this can be avoided by doing warm-up and warm-down stretches.
But when stretching alone doesn’t prevent the pain, your child may be suffering from a common growth-related condition known as Osgood Schlatters disease.
What causes it?
You may be aware that bones grow faster than muscles. Osgood Schlatters condition arises because of this varying growth rates between the bones and muscles of teenagers, combined with extensive use in exercise and sport. This can lead to tightness where tendons, muscles and bones attach, resulting in inflammation and pain within or just below the knee. In some cases, a painful lump may also appear just below the kneecap.
Who is at risk?
This painful condition most commonly appears in active boys and athletes aged 10 to 16, especially those involved in running and jumping activities.
Activities that put a strain on the patella tendon (just below the kneecap) can cause it to become inflamed and painful, during and after sport.
Is there a cure?
Whilst there is no cure for the condition, it is reassuring to know that active teens and athletes usually outgrow the condition as their growth slows approaching adulthood.
In the meantime, rest is vital for healing, and if training is to continue, only exercises that avoid straining the affected area should be undertaken. Ice packs can also help alleviate the pain.
How we can help?
A professional diagnosis is important firstly to confirm that it is in fact Osgood Schlatters disease, and there isn’t another underlying problem or coexisting condition. We may, depending on the seriousness, prescribe custom-made foot orthotics to correct the athlete’s lower limb alignment. We may also use sports massage techniques on the quads and patella tendon to relieve pain. And we may refer serious athletes to a physiotherapist for a comprehensive and holistic approach to managing the condition.
How you can help?
As you know, teenagers aren’t always good at listening to instructions! So you may need to remind them (often) that it is essential to warm up and warm down with proper stretching techniques, before and after exercise.
In fact, similar growth-related problems can occur in other parts of the body, such as the foot (heel) pelvis, hip and arm, where tendons insert into the growing bone, and these too may be avoided with proper stretching.