Osgood-Schlatter: A Common Cause of Knee Pain in Children

Childhood Onset and Adult Manifestation of Osgood-Schlatter

Osgood-Schlatter is a condition that involves pain of the anterior knee where the patellar tendon attaches to the tibia. This is right below the front of the knee. This condition is common in children, particularly those between ages 10-14. In children, Osgood-Schlatter typically resolves when the growth plates close, but Osgood-Schlatter can occur in adults as well.
Osgood-Schlatter occurs as a result of sustained tension on the patellar tendon and its insertion into the bone of the tibia. This tension causes inflammation and pain of the proximal growth plate of the tibia, which is under the tibial tuberosity where the patellar tendon inserts. While this growth plate has fused by the time adulthood is reached, damage to the tibial tuberosity and growth plate during childhood can allow for Osgood-Schlatter to occur as an adult.

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Triggers and Risk Factors

Osgood-Schlatter typically occurs in young athletes where running and jumping is common. However, Osgood-Schlatter can occur or progress as a result of injuries sustained in an auto accident. Auto accidents can result in injury and tightness of the quadriceps muscle, as well as injury to the knee. This is particularly the case if the knee impacts a portion of the vehicle, such as the dashboard.
Osgood-Schlatter often affects those aged 10-14 as the bones are growing quickly at this age. This rapid bone growth can result in increased tightness and pull on the tibia and growth plate from the quadriceps muscles.

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Managing Osgood-Schlatter: Strategies for Recovery

Rest and ice are important in reducing knee pain of Osgood-Schlatter. Stretching, exercise, massage, and Chiropractic manipulation can help decrease tightness of the quadriceps and therefore decrease pull on the tibial tuberosity and underlying growth plate.
Direct massage of the quadriceps muscles is very helpful in reducing tightness of the quadriceps. Stretching is important as well. There are a variety of ways to stretch the quadriceps. A fairly easy stretch involves standing, moving the lower leg back into flexion, and holding the lower leg above the ankle to apply a stretch to the knee and quadriceps. This stretch should be performed throughout the day in order to reliably stretch and relax the quadriceps.
It's important to address Osgood-Schlatter when knee pain is mild, before the condition has the chance to progress. In severe cases, the patellar tendon can partially or fully separate from the bone of the tibia, producing an avulsion fracture which may need to be treated surgically.
Your Chiropractor will be able to instruct you in stretches and exercise that can help reduce the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter, prevent more severe progression, and promote healing. Contact your Chiropractor if you are suffering from knee pain or have been injured in an auto accident.