It can be a challenge to know how to treat Osgood Schlatters effectively. The condition causes pain under your knee cap, which gets worse either during or after exercise. It’s very common with active young girls and boys or pre-adolescent youngsters.
What is Osgood Schlatters?
Osgood Schlatters is a very painful condition and it’s often referred to in medical literature as a disease. It’s not a disease, it’s actually what’s called a Traction Apophysitis.
Traction is the word for pulling and Apophysitis is inflammation to the bone. With Osgood Schlatters what happens is the quadriceps muscles (very powerful muscles) which run down the front of the leg, converge through the knee cap and then they pull at the bony landmark where the muscles attach to the tibia. This landmark is called your tibial tuberosity and what happens with Osgood Schlatters is repeated contraction of the quadriceps muscles pulls and irritates this bony point.
What causes Osgood Schlatters?
It’s common in young girls and boys who are very active and often they go through a growth spurt so their femurs grow and it puts the quadriceps muscles under increased tension. If they’re doing a lot of sports or exercise (running, jumping, football, netball), with repeated use this tibial tuberosity becomes inflamed, tender and sore.
Osgood Schlatters becomes very painful and it’s very distressing for youngsters; I’ve seen young people coming into clinic on crutches because the pain is so bad. It can also be very distressing for parents to see their children suffering with this condition.
It’s common for people to want to remain active, so knowing how to treat Osgood Schlatters whilst balancing this with activities can be a real challenge especially for young people.
The good news is that it’s quite easy to treat with the right assessment, so you don’t need to spend lots of money on private physiotherapy to get this resolved. With the right information you can treat this effectively in the comfort of your own home.
The mechanics of the knee
The quadriceps muscle is not one muscle, it’s actually four. Hence the term ‘quad’. All of them come down through the knee cap, which isn’t a fixed bone, it’s a floating bone called a sesamoid. As the muscles come down they converge and become tendernous and the kneecap sits in that tendon.
So the kneecap is effectively just a fulcrum. It’s a lever to enable you to go from sitting to standing. All of these muscles run down the front of the leg and they’re responsible for extension, so they straighten the leg when you’re kicking a football, when you’re going from sitting to standing or when you’re climbing stairs for example.
Adults get this frequently too if they’re doing a lot of walking up and down hills or they’re doing a lot of walking up and down stairs, that causes the tibial tuberosity to become irritated.
Osgood Schlatters is a chronic condition, so if left untreated it tends not to go away. It feels easy and okay when you rest it but invariably when you go back to exercise it will flare up and return.
How to treat Osgood Schlatters
If you suspect that you have Osgood Schlatters then get your symptoms assessed first with our pain assessment tool, which can provide a likely cause of your pain.
Once you’ve identified the cause you’ll be able to download a treatment guide. It will tell you everything you need to know about the condition. It will help you manage the pain and more importantly it will tell you how to rehabilitate this condition to stop it coming back.