Osgood-Schlatters: A Common Injury in Youth Soccer Players

Osgood-Schlatters is an overuse injury of the tibial tubercle growth plate. Varying degrees of pain can be felt just below the kneecap where the Patellar tendon meets the shin bone. The pain itself is from inflammation of the Patellar Tendon.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Osgood-Schlatters can vary from person to person, but typically include:Knee pain:  Sharp pain can be felt at just below the Knee CapSwelling of the kneeKnee is tender to touch or contactIncreased pain when exercising or playing high-impact activitiesLimping after sports or physical activity

Causes

The pain of Osgood-Schlatters is caused by the stress of the quadriceps pulling on the Patella tendon where it meets the Tibial Tubercle.  It is most prevalent during a growth spurt (usually around age 11) since there is usually muscle imbalance from varying growth rates of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  When the bone grows it creates a larger lever that which causes additional stress on the patellar tendon.

Prevention

Because Osgood-Schlatter’s is a quadriceps overuse injury, it is most often caused by a muscle imbalance. To help prevent symptoms, be sure to strengthen Gluteal and hamstring muscles.

  • Stretch Quadriceps, Hamstrings and Glutes regularly
  • Keeping good Muscle balance with Quadriceps and Hamstrings
  • Proper warm up/activation of Glute and Hamstrings before exercise

Treatment

While Osgood-Schlatters is a self healing condition that should go away over time, there are several things you can do to help alleviate the pain.  Like most injuries it is best to start with R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation)

For icing, an Ice Cup Massage for  5-Minutes can be just as or more effective at reducing swelling than traditional icing that takes 20 minutes.  

Stretching
Stretching your Quadriceps, Hamstring and Calf muscles can help prevent or reduce  any excess pressure in the knee. Foam rolling is another great option to help elongate the leg muscles.

Massage
Self massage the Patellar tendon above the connecting point may trigger the golgi tendon reflex and reduce some of the pressure in the knee.

Taping and braces
Knee braces or Kinesiology tape may be used to displace the stress on the tibial tubercle that is caused by the Quadriceps.  The Chopat strap is an easy inexpensive brace that may have positive results.