Has your child got sudden knee pain?  Osgood-Schlatter syndrome causes 13% of all adolescent knee pain.

Why does it happen?

Often Osgood-Schlatter syndrome occurs after a sudden growth spurt. If the quadriceps muscle fails to keep up with the lengthening in the femur (thigh) bone as the child grows, the muscle and tendon pull excessively on the bone at the tendon insertion area (the bony bump just below the knee-cap). This bony area then sustains repeated stress and subsequently swells, becoming tender and painful, especially when a lot of knee bending and straightening is involved.



  • pain in one or both knees, which usually eases with rest
  • swelling, redness, tenderness or inflammation just under the knee
  • pain on movements such as straightening the knee, squatting, running or stair climbing
  • loss of strength or muscle bulk

Causes of Osgood-Schlatter include:

  • growth spurt – commonly in adolescent children: girls  10-11 years and boys 13-14 years
  • exercise – higher risk in sporty, athletic children
  • gender – boys are more prone to Osgood-Schlatter syndrome than girls
  • injury – about 50% of affected children report a prior knee injury


Tests for Osgood-Schlatter

  • a physical examination by a physiotherapist to determine if the knee pain is due to Osgood-Schlatter syndrome
  • an X-ray is the most usual test, rarely an ultrasound scan may be required


Problems associated with Osgood-Schlatter:

When femur bone growth is faster than the growth of the quadriceps muscle and tendon, the tendon may pull the outer layer of the bone away, causing a partial avulsion fracture. The fracture is repaired by the body laying down extra bone tissue, resulting in a larger than normal bump on the tibia (as seen on the above diagram).

Another complication of Osgood-Schlatter syndrome is an altered position of the kneecap.


How Gordon Physiotherapy Sports and Spinal Can Help

Treatment may include:

  • rest to ease the symptoms, and avoiding activities that worsen the pain
  • icepacks and anti-inflammatory medication, to reduce the swelling
  • correct stretching and strengthening exercises for the quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles
  • painkillers
  • returning to sport under the guidance of a physio
  • surgery in extreme cases only (and only once the growth spurt has ended)


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