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Foot And Leg Pain Centre

Osgood-Schlatter

Is it just growing pains? A guide to your child’s knee pain. 

When They Won’t Just ‘Grow Out of It’

Active children and teenagers love to spend time outdoors exercising, socialising and playing sports. Whilst this is great news for their health and well-being, sudden increases in exercise can lead to injury – Osgood-Schlatters disease is a common one.

Fortunately, the condition is not typically serious, and it can get better on its own. Seeking advice and assessment from a podiatrist, however, may help to determine whether a more serious injury is at play, as well as help to relieve some of your child’s pain. 

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What is Osgood-Schlatter?

This is a knee condition that impacts the upper shinbone. During a growth spurt, the tendon that connects the quadriceps muscle to the knee joint becomes tight, putting pressure on the growing bone. Exercise that involves the quadriceps only makes this strain worse. As such, this condition occurs most commonly among active teenagers aged ten to 18.

It is also more common amongst boys, but this is often put down to the fact that boys typically play more vigorous sports. Other common causes of Osgood-Schlatter disease include:

  • Periods of increased physical activity (such as jumping, running, or kicking, and sports that involve vigorous use of the quadriceps).
  • Poor foot mechanics (such as flat feet), which increases torque and strain on the knee joint.
  • A prior knee injury that occurred before the knee was finished growing.

The main symptom that people with Osgood-Schlatter disease experience is swelling and discomfort below the knee. The pain often improves with resting but returns with activity.

Other symptoms include pain when straightening the knee or squatting to a deep position, pain when running and going up or down stairs, a swollen tibial tuberosity (the bony bump at the top of the tibia bone) and irritated skin over the area, and weakened or smaller quadricep muscles.

Whilst this condition often corrects itself in a few weeks or months (once the growth spurt is complete), it is recommended that your child see a podiatrist to determine the severity of the disease and whether additional treatment is required.

Your child’s podiatrist will take down their history, perform a physical examination of the foot and ankle, and a biomechanical examination to assess the range of movement. They will also look for swelling in the knee joint and assess the level of pain they’re experiencing. They may also send them for an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to evaluate the severity of the disease.

Treatment is aimed at managing and reducing symptoms so that your child can continue with sports and other activities.

  • Activity modification and rest. Completely avoid activities that cause pain, followed by a gradual return to activity, guided by symptoms.
  • Orthotics may be prescribed to correct abnormalities or imbalances in your feet and legs.
  • Physical therapy exercises may seek to address postural issues as well as strengthen and stretch the muscles around the knee.
  • Medications (such as painkillers and anti-inflammatories) may be prescribed to relieve more acute pain.
  • Surgery is only performed once growth has ended and is only advised in rare cases where people don’t respond to non-surgical treatments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

With rest and proper management, it usually takes about six weeks for the pain to settle and the condition to resolve. This process may take longer if the appropriate steps are not taken and if the management plan created by your podiatrist is not followed properly.

This disease is not permanent in most cases. In fact, about 90% will resolve once the child reaches adulthood (when the skeleton has hardened and the tibial tuberosity bone is no longer vulnerable to inflammation). Only a very small number of cases persist into adulthood, and this is very rare.

No. Having previously had this disease does not mean your child will continue to have problems as they get older, that their knees are unstable, that they’re more likely to experience a fracture, or that they’re more likely to rupture tendons. If it is treated properly, they are likely to make a full recovery.

Yes, children and teens with Osgood-Schlatters can usually continue with their normal activities (including sports) provided their pain is not bad enough to interfere. When playing sports, it may help to wear shock-absorbing insoles, wear protective knee pads, heat beforehand, and ice afterwards.

Many parents are concerned whether this disease could affect the growth and height of their child. In short, the answer is no – there is no link between people who have had Osgood-Schlatters and reduced height. Although it’s a bone condition, it doesn’t have any effect on the growth or health of the bone.

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Why Choose Foot and Leg Pain Centre?

Treatment for All Ages

Our team is committed to helping patients of all ages, including children and teenagers, walk pain-free. Rest assured that we have ample experience.

Personalised Treatment

Every person and presentation is different, which is why we are committed to tailoring a treatment plan according to you and your goals.

Friendly Environment

Treating children often presents its own unique challenges. We seek to create a warm and welcoming environment to put our young patients at ease.

Treating Osgood-Schlatter with Podiatry

Your child or teenager’s foot pain shouldn’t just be ignored. Whether they play sports regularly or you think they’re just growing, there could be a deeper issue at play. No child should have to live in pain, which is why our team of experienced podiatrists seeks to address their knee pain as quickly as possible. We see children of all ages, so if your little one is complaining of knee pain, book them in for an appointment today.

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Walk Towards Wellness With Foot and Leg Pain Centre

Whether you’re an avid runner, an on-your-feet-all-day worker, or simply somebody who enjoys walking with their dog, plantar fasciitis can disrupt your routine and dampen your spirits. However, this doesn’t have to be a permanent problem.

At Foot and Leg Pain Centre, our team of experienced podiatrists understands the intricacies of plantar fasciitis, and we’re committed to providing you with the knowledge, support, and personalised treatment options to restore your physical freedom. Together, we’ll uncover the underlying causes, explore therapies tailored to you, and empower you to step forward. When you’re ready to take that step, book an appointment today!