Children and adolescents have soft “growth plates,” which are areas where their bone is still growing. In children, this growth plate is much weaker than in adults. This means that children are more likely to suffer growth plate injuries than adults, especially during periods of rapid growth.
Osgood Schlatter’s disease, also called tibial epiphysitis, is a painful irritation of the growth plate near the insertion of your quadriceps muscle on your knee. The powerful thigh muscles attach onto your knee through the patellar tendon. When your thigh muscle contracts- like during running or jumping, they place a sheer force on the growth plate of your knee.
Osgood Schlatter’s disease is more common in athletes, particularly those who participate in soccer, gymnastics, basketball, running or track. It is most common between the ages of 10 and 15 and is relatively equally common between boys and girls. Excessively tight thigh or calf muscles may contribute to this problem.
You may experience pain with activity that requires running or jumping. You will often feel tenderness or even bony enlargement of your “tibial tuberosity”, just below your knee. Kneeling or prolonged squatting may be painful.
Some athletes with mild cases may continue activity as long as it does not increase your symptoms. Most cases may require a period of rest to allow the condition to heal. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may need to limit activities that require running and jumping for a while, usually two to eight weeks. You can often cross train in the pool or on a stationary bike.
You should avoid running with a narrow stride “on a line,” as this may increase your symptoms. Our office may recommend use of a patellar tendon strap to assist with your healing. Osgood Schlatter’s disease can temporarily limit your activity, but most of the time, it can be successfully managed, allowing your return to pain-free activity in a relatively short period of time.