Osgood-schlatters disease – a common early adolescent complaint

What is Osgood Schlatters Disease? Can Physiotherapy Help?

Or is it just growing pains?

When we think about the anatomy of the knee there are four main bones that form the knee joint complex.  The femur which is the long thigh bone, the tibia which is the long shin bone, The fibular the long thin bone which runs alongside the tibia and the patella which is a bone that forms within a tendon after birth. 

This tendon is the quadriceps tendon.  The patella forms in the tendon as the muscles in the thigh start to be used.

The quadriceps tendon attaches to the top of the tibia bone in a spot called the tibial tuberosity. 

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The tibial tuberosity is in the region of the growth plate of the tibia.  The medical terminology for Osgood Schlatter Disease is Apophysitis of the tibial Tubercle.

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It is inflammation of the patellar tendon at the tibial tuberosity.  It appears as a lump just below the knee and can often be painful and red. Osgood Schlatters Disease is more commonly seen in adolescents around the ages of 9 to 16 and seems to be more commonly occurring in boys.

It also seems to be more common in those adolescents who are more active in sports in particular running and jumping sports such as Basketball, Netball, Soccer, Football and Volley ball although osgood schlatters can also appear in adolescents who are not particularly active.

During growth spurts there is a lot of activity going on in the muscles ligaments and tendons and bones.  The muscles can become tight in the front and back of the thigh.  The result is swelling in the attachment of the patella tendon to the tibial tuberosity.


  • Intense knee pain presents during running, jumping, squatting and kneeling activities.
  • Pain is often worse with knee impact.
  • Pain is felt during resisted knee extension
  • Pain could be mild and intermittent initially in the acute phase
  • In the acute phase pain is severe and unrelenting
  • More often unilateral


Maintenance of flexibility in the quadriceps and hamstrings by doing regular stretches to these muscle groups


  • Often Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs will be prescribed (NSAIDS)
  • RICE Rest Ice Compression and Elevation
  • Physiotherapy is often recommended.
    Physiotherapy treatment can include modalities to reduce pain and inflammation.
  •  Strengthening exercises for quadriceps hamstrings and calf muscles. Strengthening exercises are only indicated if the pain is not too severe.
  • Taping techniques to deload the patella tendon insertion can help to reduce pain and can be effective in maintaining activity if the symptoms are not too severe.
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