What is Osgood Schlatters Disease?
This is not truly a ‘disease’ and is not as serious as it sounds. It is characterised by activity-related pain just below the kneecap (patella) at the top of the shin bone. It was named after Dr Osgood an American orthopaedic surgeon and Carl B. Schlatter, a Swiss surgeon who described the condition independently in 1903.
It can often be dismissed as ‘growing pains’, and although will usually settle down once adolescents stop growing, if left untreated up to 60 per cent will have discomfort in the knee area as adults.
It occurs most commonly with strenuous, high impact activities, sports like running, dance, netball, football, gymnastics etc. It can be triggered by a trauma or a rapid growth spurt and is caused by the pull of the strong thigh and calf muscles on the tendons that attach them to the bone. The bones often grow much quicker than the surrounding soft tissue and the muscles get left behind, causing increased tension at the tendon.
How does it affect girls and boys?
Girls are usually affected aged 8-13 and boys affected aged 10-15, coinciding with the periods of rapid growth. There is a genetic element, and often close relatives of affected children will have a prominent bony lump at the front of the knee, where the body has tried to heal itself by laying down extra bone.