Common Overuse Injuries in Youth Athletes: Osgood Schlatter’s Disease (Series)

Osgood Schlatter’s Disease


What is it: Osgood Schlatter’s is one of the most common overuse injuries in youth athletes. The injury occurs at the knee where the patellar tendon meets the tibia bone (tibial tuberosity). In youth athletes, this area is still developing and with strong pull from the quadriceps muscle, the growing bone can be pulled away from tibia. Once the bone has been pulled away, it will continue to grow resulting in enlarged tibial tuberosity(some cases).

Who is most at risk: The population most at risk are children in their growth spurt (ages 7-15). Repetitive stress to this area can be caused by running, jumping, kicking, and more. These activities are seen in soccer, football, cross-country, and gymnastics to name a few. The main component that increases the risk for this overuse is insufficient rest and poor mechanics.

What to look out for: The child will likely have pain in the knee under the kneecap. In some cases you can see a bump in that area where the increased growth occurred with the injury. They also may complain of pain with walking up/down stairs, tightness in quadriceps, and pain with resisting motion with knee bent. X-ray has shown to be beneficial for diagnostic purposes.

How to treat or prevent: When talking about prevention, adequate rest is vital. Maintaining adequate knee mobility especially bending knee can help reduce stress placed on patellar tendon.

Treatment: Activity restrictions should be only limited to the child’s pain during the activity (activity modification). Also flexibility and progressive strengthening exercises of muscles surround the knee (Hamstrings, quadriceps, iliotibial bands, gastrocnemius). Certain knee braces and taping techniques have been found to be beneficial in the treatment of this condition.

Summary: Osgood Schlatter’s disease can be a debilitating injury through bone growth if not treated appropriately. However, outcomes are usually very good and symptoms may dissipate within 2 years. In cases where bone fragments may be present, if persistent, may be treated with surgery. Having a good understanding of this condition may help you and/or your child to seek the appropriate treatment.


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