What is Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome?

Knee pain can be a common complaint among all athletes. Younger athletes with knee pain may actually be suffering from Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome.

Knee pain can be a common complaint among all athletes.  Younger athletes with knee pain may actually be suffering from Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome. Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome is a common overuse injury named after an American surgeon Robert Bayley Osgood (1873–1956) and a Swiss surgeon Carl Schlatter (1864–1934). The symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome are usually pain, swelling, and tenderness over the tibial tuberosity of the dominant leg. According to the Mayo Clinic, Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome disease affects about 20% of adolescents who participate in sports. Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome can be diagnosed in both girls and boys, usually between the ages of 10-14. This condition is most often diagnosed in younger athletes who participate in sports that require repetition, running, jumping, and fast directional changes. Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome tends to effect young athletes participating in sports such as; soccer, basketball, volleyball, track and field, dance, and gymnastics.

Research in the Annals of the Academy of Medicine examined 506 cases of overuse injuries in young athletes. And found that the knee joint was the most affected joint, while the hip was the least affected joint for overuse injuries.

Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome is usually the result of overuse and stress on the knees. This stress can cause minuscule fractures at the tendon on the tibia. The bone will then try to repair by creating more calcium which causes a noticeable lump under the knee. Growth spurts can also lead to the development of Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome as the muscles try to keep up with the growth of the bones creating stress muscles and tendons of the of the knee.

Some of the common signs and symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter Disease:

  • Pain below the knee that worsens with exercise and training.
  • Swelling and tenderness below the knee area.
  • A bony area that may be visible under the knee.
  • A grinding or stretching sensation may be felt in the tendon area.

Research in Current Opinion in Pediatrics Journal, reports that about 90% of athletes respond well to rest, ice, activity modification, mobility, and rehabilitation exercises. If symptoms worsen and are not relieved by these measures, it is recommended that you consult with a medical professional for treatment.

Coaches must have an understanding of the etiology of this common condition when working with younger athletes in sports and athletic programs. Implementing balanced programs grounded in empirical data and preventative measures can aid in creating an appropriate training program.  Coaches should also have a knowledge base on the symptoms associated with Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome, and be able to make appropriate recommendations to athletes and referrals to appropriate medical liaisons when needed.