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Osgood Schlatters

Osgood Schlatters (OS) is a condition that is extremely common in adolescents at the time of a growth spurt. Ages vary, but generally speaking, boys may suffer between the ages of 13 and 15, whilst girls may be in the 10-12 category. It is usually associated with repeated forced knee extension, or high impact activity in sports such as football, basketball, or running.

Named after two physicians, Dr. Robert Osgood and Dr. Carl Schlatter, a typical case of OS will reveal itself as a bump, or lump just below the kneecap – people sometimes liken it to a second knee (see image below).

The primary symptom of Osgood Schlatters is typically pain at the tibial tuberosity (the bony bit at the top of the shin bone). This tibial tuberosity may become swollen or inflamed, resulting in this aforementioned lump/bump. Tenderness and pain is worse during and after exercise. The athlete is likely to experience pain when contracting the thigh muscles or performing knee bending activities. There may be subsequent muscle tightness around the joint.

OS is a self-limiting condition that generally settles with the bony fusion of the tibial tubercle (Ref 1), which may thicken long-term.

Because of its self-limiting nature, education is key in its management as symptoms may persist for up to 2 years. Other management strategies include activity modification. The key word here is modification, as there is “no evidence that rest accelerates the healing process” (Ref 1). Pain should be the main guide with regards to level of activity. As the quadriceps appear to be key contributors to the condition, soft tissue therapy alongside a graded programme of stretching and strengthening can be helpful. Some people find the P.O.L.I.C.E approach helpful.

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  1. Clinical Sports Medicine, Brukner and Khan, p.897

N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldnt be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.

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