Whats is Osgood Schlatters (OSD) and Severes?

Osgood-Schlatters disease (OSD) is the name given to a fairly common condition seen in adolescent children. Typically it involves pain just below the kneecap where the quad tendon connects to the shin bone. It can be present in one or both knees at the same time and can be painful to touch/press but is more characterized by pain during and after activities that involve movements like running and jumping as these activities place a higher amount of load on the quad tendon. Sever’s disease is a similar condition to OSD but occurs where the Achilles tendon connects to the heel bone. It can also be present in one or both heels and may be tender to touch but is characterized by pain during and/or after running and jumping activities.

What Causes these conditions?

These conditions are usually brought on during periods of rapid growth spurts, there can also be a genetic component that makes a child more likely to develop these conditions. There is also a link between body weight and activity levels that can put a child at more risk. Activity levels prior to a period of rapid growth have also been shown to affect the risk of developing OSD or severe’s being the children who were less active prior to a growth spurt are at a higher risk of developing these conditions when their activity levels increase during periods of growth spurts. High volumes of running/jumping exercise/activities can also increase a child’s risk of developing these conditions.

Is my child’s pain going to get better?

The good thing with OSD and Severe’s is that in most cases it improves over time as the growth plates in the knee and heel bone close during their development. In some cases, the child may develop a lump/bump around the injured site as the body lays down more calcium around the area to protect the bone. The lump is nothing to worry about if it doesn’t impede function or cause pain, if it does there is a surgical option to remove if needed.

What Should I do to help?

As OSD and Severe’s usually doesn’t completely resolve until their growth plates finish developing, the priority is managing your child’s symptoms while they go through this period of activity limiting pain. Recent studies have shown that physiotherapy interventions and monitoring during this time period can help reduce the amount of sport/activity that a child misses out on as the key treatment to reduce pain is to monitor and adjust a child’s activity levels to ensure they aren’t in too much pain/discomfort but still able to participate in sport/activities as much as possible. Strengthening exercises as shown in the videos are also vital to help improve the load tolerance in the heel and knee in both conditions as well as helping improve sporting performance. Finally, having their running/jumping assessed to see if changing their biomechanics reduces their pain without affecting their performance. In summary, the main priority with this condition is to monitor activity levels and adjust to reduce pain but do not completely abstain from the sport if possible, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and to alter jumping, landing, and running mechanics to reduce the load in the knee or heel. These strategies, along with time, your child’s OSD or Severe’s should become much more manageable, less impacting on their sport/exercise, and everyday activities and should resolve over time. See your local physio or get in contact with us if you need some more help or advice!


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