Pain in the front of the knee, or more specifically below the knee on and around the top of the shin is a common complaint of teenagers. It often occurs in children that play a lot of sport and are highly active. This condition is know as Osgood Schlatter’s.
Osgood Schlatter’s disease is acute pain that occurs just underneath the knee at a site called the tibial tuberosity. This is where your quadriceps attach. Your quadriceps are your powerful thigh muscles that initiate knee extension (think kicking and jumping) and help slow down knee flexion (such as landing).
Osgood Schlatter’s is classed as an overuse injury in conjunction with growing. With the constant stress on the quadricep tendon it can cause acute and chronic inflammation, this can result in pain, a limp and potentially decreased performance. The chronic pulling on the tendon can actually cause the tendon to pull away from the knee.
Common sports played are codes of football, basketball and volleyball, high impact and high stress sports.
In severe or untreated cases the cartilage or bone fragment can detach from the tibia completely which then becomes a more serious issue.
What can we do?
As osteopaths we will examine the function and assess the pain to firstly address if Osgood Schlatter’s is suspected, look for other potential mechanical causes of the pain and condition. Treatment will include education and advice, as well as soft tissue therapy, stretching, icing, taping and potentially rest from sports. When the pain has settled down, we can then focus on strengthening and stretching.
Can I still play sports?
Being active without pain is a crucial part of the rehabilitation process as well need to keep strong and mobile, therefore full rest from sport and activity is rarely required. It is most likely that you will need to decrease the number of sports you play, or the number of nights you train to allow adequate recovery.
Osgood Schlatter’s will settle. The time frame however varies greatly from person to person. The pain will often last anywhere from 6 weeks to 12 months but has the potential to be ongoing for 2 years. This is often when the growth plates fuse and stabilise. With this many patients will have a bony lump at the site of the tendon as a body response to the ongoing stress.
Other causes of knee pain
Unfortunately knee pain can be common in young sports players and as a complex joint there can be multiple causes of your pain, that’s why it’s important to get your pain assessed by a trained health professional. Some other common causes include
- Lateral ligament sprains
- Anterior and posterior cruciate ligament
- Fat pad impingment
- Quadricep tears
- ITB syndrome
- Patella hypomobility
- Sinding-Larsen Lesion
Treatment will vary dramatically depending on what your injury is so get in today to find out what the best way is to a full recovery.