Children achy legs

Osgood-Schlatter’s apophysitis is a common cause of knee pain in children and adolescents. It is often referred to as growing pains in the knees. The condition was originally described back in the 1890’s, and is a term used to describe a painful traction apophysitis of the tibial tuberosity (the bony bit at the top of the shin bone).


What causes Osgood-Schlatter’s apophysitis?

There is still some controversy around the cause of Osgood-Schlatter’s apophysitis. It is thought to be primarily caused by repetitive contractions of the strong quadriceps muscle (the group of muscles at the front of the thigh bone) irritating the growth plate at the top of the tibia. The condition tends to occur in highly active children and adolescents who participate in regular sport and most often starts during a growth spurt.


What are the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter’s apophysitis?

Symptoms are usually felt at the front of the knee and can include pain, swelling and tenderness below the kneecap at the top of the shin bone. The symptoms are aggravated by physical activity, especially when running, bending the knee, squatting, kicking and kneeling. Recent studies suggest Osgood-Schlatters affects boys and girls equally. 

What can be done to treat the symptoms?

Treating Osgood-Schlatter’s apophysitis starts with addressing modifiable risk factors such as training programs, practice routines and any surrounding soft tissue changes such as muscle tightness. Treatment will be directed at alleviating painful symptoms and helping you and your child implement self-management strategies at home.

While every treatment plan is individualised depending on the specific presentation, the results of a comprehensive lower limb assessment, and your child’s symptoms, we may use:

  • Isometric strengthening and stretching of the surrounding muscles
  • Footwear assessment, to ensure their shoes are keeping the feet in good alignment and not contributing to the onset of symptoms
  • Technique revision and education to go over warm-up and cool-down exercises, as well as other tips, to help modify contributing factors
  • Custom orthotics to help correct any alignment problems in the feet or legs that may be contributing to the knee pain