Growing up can be really hard. There, I said it. There’s a lot going on at school, at home and then while you’re getting taller, your body starts hurting too.
Something we’ve been seeing a lot recently in the clinic is adolescents complaining of knee pain. They often have a little bit of swelling below the kneecap and tell us that the pain gets worse when they run or jump. These are all common symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter’s disease (OSD).
OSD commonly rears its head during growth spurts during puberty where bones, muscles, and tendons grow at different rates. In OSD, the tendon that connects the shin to the kneecap pulls on the growth plate at the top of the shinbone. When you’re not doing much other than sitting on the couch playing video games, it’s unlikely you’ll notice it.
One of the first things we tell all kids and their parents coming in is that Osgood-Schlatter’s doesn’t cause significant permanent damage; however, it can sometimes lead to excess bone growth and produce a visible bump where the tendon attaches to the bone.If they’re a sporty or active child, they will likely feel this more and will complain of ‘pulling’ at the shin bone. Although it’s slightly more common in kids who are active, kids who have more body mass can also experience it.
As with any injury, it may be necessary to reduce the load on the knees to allow the body some time to rest and allow the bones, ligaments and tendons to ‘catch up’.
Some kids don’t like to hear that and want to keep playing their sport. In this case, we often recommend reducing training loads during the week so they can perform as best as possible for game day. One simple way we recommend doing this is by simply not running around as much during recess and lunch time.
While the recovery from Osgood-Schlatter’s is just a matter of time, physio can still be beneficial for your child/teenager. Assessing their movement patterns to help plan to strengthen their muscles for their sport and helping to reduce some of the day to day discomfort reduce injury risk during their growing periods can help minimise the risk of young kids becoming ‘frequent flyers’ at the clinic.
If your child is complaining of knee pain, it’s best to get it checked out so we can form a plan to get them pain free!