Osgood Schlatters Disease

Osgood Schlatter’s Disease is inflammation of the top of the tibia (tibial tubercle), where the patellar tendon attaches. It mainly occurs in children and adolescents who play heavy ground contact sports. It generally arises due to overuse, and often causes significant pain, preventing exercise & activity.

Osgood Schlatter’s Disease can be due to repetitive rapid quadriceps contractions, which cause the patellar tendon to rub against the immature bone. This generally occurs while the bone is developing and at its most vulnerable, being unable to withstand high tensile forces.  Another cause is that the quadriceps grows too slowly compared to the femur. The relative shortness of the muscle compared to the bone results in increased stress on the patellar tendon and tibia.


Symptoms & Presentation: 

  • Localised pain, swelling & tenderness of the tibial tubercle
  • Pain exacerbated during exercise such as running, squatting or jumping.
  • Direct contact such as kneeling
  • In chronic cases, quadriceps weakness can develop
  • Often only involves one leg, but can occur bilaterally (presents in 20-30% of cases)
  • In some cases, a bony protuberance can develop at the tibial tubercle



Treatment & Management:

Resting from high impact activities and sports involving significant ground contact (running + jumping movements) should begin immediately. Ice can help with the pain & swelling. Taping to offload the area can be used to reduce the forces on the bone and reduce pain. Mild cases will resolve in a matter of days, while more severe cases will require ongoing management. Complete recovery is expected for most, if not all of the cases.

According to research, consultation with a physiotherapist for ongoing assessment and treatment has been shown to be most effective. Electrotherapy Modalities & Massage may be used by the physio to relieve pain, while stretching & strengthening exercises, along with foam rolling (if stretching is painful) will be prescribed to the patient to perform in their own time. This will help with shortened, tight and weak muscles, along with muscular imbalances.

By Clinton Huynh


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