Wellness & Fitness

Child knee pain: What you need to know about Osgood Schlatter disease


Is your growing child (10 – 16 years) complaining of knee pain, especially after vigorous or even mild activity? They have no history of a fall or trauma to the knee.

Well, they could be suffering from a knee condition called Osgood Schlatter disease (OSD) that is a common cause of knee pain in growing adolescents.

It is an inflammation of the area just below the knee where the tendon from the kneecap (patellar tendon) attaches to the shinbone (tibia). Most often it occurs during growth spurts when children are vulnerable because their bones, muscles, and tendons are growing quickly and not always at the same time.

Children who participate in physical activities such as sports that involve; running, jumping and swift changes of direction such as soccer, basketball, figure skating and ballet - are at an increased risk for this condition.

However, less active adolescents may also experience this problem. In most cases, both knees have the symptoms although one may be worse than the other. This condition affects both girls and boys alike.

The symptoms include knee pain and tenderness and swelling at the lower front part of the knee, and tight muscles in the front or back of the thigh as well as increased discomfort with activity.

They, however, may vary from child, while others complain of mild pain with certain activities others have constant and debilitating pain.

The good news is that OSD is far less scary than the name sounds. It usually goes away when the teenagers' bones stop growing (15 – 18 years). However, during that stage, the following will help manage the pain and discomfort.

→ Apply heat 15 minutes before an activity or ice 20 minutes afterwards.

→ Use knee support to help rest the knee joint. Also, shock-absorbent insoles aid in easing stress to the knee. Stretching exercises for the front and back of the thigh help relieve pain and prevent a recurrence.

→ Rest the knee/ limit activities that cause pain. During a flare-up, a short break from sports will be necessary.

→ In severe cases the child may be temporarily issued with elbow crutches to take weight off and induce rest the knee. If the symptoms still persist you need to seek the attention of a physiotherapist.

Ms Kung'u is a physical therapist at Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre