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Osgood-Schlatter Disease: What It Is, Why Kids Get It, and How to Treat It

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a disorder that affects the knees of growing children. It’s caused by repetitive stress on the knee and results in pain and swelling below the kneecap. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what Osgood-Schlatter’s is, why kids get it, and how we can treat it!

What is Osgood-Schlatter Disease?

Well, first off, it’s important to know that Osgood-Schlatter’s is not a serious condition. It usually goes away on its own once your child stops growing. However, in the meantime, your child may experience some discomfort and pain around their knee. This can make it difficult for them to participate in the activities they enjoy, like sports or playing with friends outside.

The sore spot just below the knee that presents in Osgood-Schlatter Disease is called the Tibial Tuberosity, which is where the tendon from the quadriceps muscle attaches to the bone.  This area can be sore to touch, and can often develop into a prominent round bump on the knee.  This bump develops because of the chronic inflammation and irritation at the Tibial Tuberosity.  This bump will likely disappear or at least reduce in size as your child finishes growing.

How to treat Osgood-Schlatter Disease

If your child is experiencing pain from Osgood-Schlatter’s, there are some things you can do to help. First, you can encourage them to take a period of “relative” rest and to ice their knee. Relative rest does not necessarily mean resting completely, rather reducing the total amount of activity and intensity that they are doing for a short period.  Icing their knee will help to reduce the inflammation and swelling.

In most cases, Osgood-Schlatter’s will go away on its own once your child stops growing.  However, if your child is still experiencing pain after they’ve stopped growing, you should see a health professional to investigate other treatment options.

There are other helpful ways to treat Osgood-Schlatter’s as well.  For example, your physiotherapist may prescribe a small supportive brace to help reduce stress around the knee.  Physiotherapy may also be recommended to help stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee.  If you’re looking for some knee strengthening exercises for kids, it’s good to know which ones will help with Osgood-Schlatter’s disease.

Can you run with Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease?

If your child is asking whether they can still play sports with Osgood-Schlatter’s, the answer is usually yes!  However, it’s important to listen to their body and not push through too much pain.  A small amount of discomfort is normally still OK, but if their knee pain worsens, have them take a break from the activity for a little while.

Some sports may be a little more difficult to continue doing with Osgood-Schlatter’s than others.  If your child is struggling to participate in their favourite sport because of the pain from Osgood Schlatter’s, you can try modifying the activity to make it less strenuous on their knee.  For example, instead of running long distances, they could try running shorter distances with more rest periods, or playing a different sport altogether that involves less impact.  Activities that involve explosive movements like running and jumping increase the load on the tibial tuberosity, and can aggravate the pain caused by Osgood-Schlatter disease.  Activities like swimming can be great for children with Osgood-Schlatter’s because it doesn’t put this extra stress on their knee.

So there you have it! That’s everything you need to know about Osgood-Schlatter’s disease.  If your child is experiencing pain in their knee, be sure to have them rest and ice the area, and see a health professional if the pain persists.  And finally, encourage them to keep participating in physical activity, even if it means modifying their favourite sport! Thanks for reading!

About the author

Dane Ford

Dane is the owner and physiotherapist of “Lift Physiotherapy and Performance” in Alfords Point, in Sydney’s south. Lift Physio aims to help you overcome injury, and unlock your full potential.

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  • 30s – 1min plank
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