Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome and Physiotherapy

Osgood-Schlatter syndrome is a common condition seen in active and growing children. Osgood-Schlatter syndrome is characterised by pain and swelling at a bony prominence just below the knee called the tibial tuberosity. The quadriceps muscle (the muscle at the front of the thigh) attaches to the tibial tuberosity via the patella tendon. Osgood-Schlatter syndrome often affects boys aged 10-15 and girls aged 9-13. During these ages, growth spurts and physical activity are common. During a growth spurt, bone typically grows faster than muscle and tendon, which means muscles are now stretched over longer bones. This results in muscles being “tighter” until the muscle growth catches up. In those with Osgood-Schlatter syndrome, there is excess pulling (or traction) by the patella tendon at the tibial tuberosity because of tightness in the quadriceps muscle. This extra pulling/traction results in micro-fractures of the tibial tuberosity and produces pain and swelling. The body’s response to micro-fractures is to lay down extra bone, so the tibial tuberosity may become bigger and a visible lump may be seen. Osgood-Schlatter syndrome is often seen in physically active kids participating in sports such as soccer and basketball due to the increased load and use of muscles. Osgood-Schlatter syndrome is usually self-resolving and children may experience a couple of episodes of pain during growth spurts over adolescence. Treatment usually involves pain management strategies such as ice and pain relief medication. Physiotherapy is also beneficial to reduce pain and treatment involves soft tissue massage to tight muscles and activity modification plans during those painful stages.

By Jessica Norton

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