Osgood Schlatters Disease Causes

FootballersOsgood Schlatters Disease is an over use injury which affects growing children between the ages of 12 to 15 years old.

It is very common in football and many other sports involving running, jumping and high impact activities and if not treated correctly can continue to affect older athletes.


The patella tendon (or patella ligament as it is sometimes called) connects the bottom of the kneecap (patella) with the shin bone at a bony protrusion called the tibial tuberosity. In simple terms Osgood Schlatters Disease it is a painful reaction at the point where the patella tendon inserts into the tibia or shin bone.

Over a period of time it tends to get worse and worse and you get a pulling of the tendon at the growth plate where the tendon attaches. With repeated trauma new bone grows back during the healing process which causes an obvious prominent bony lump felt at the tibial tuberosity.

Osgood Schlatters Disease

It is very much related to activity in terms of the level of training the young person is doing and whether they are undergoing a growth spurt. Boys aged around 13 to 15 years old are more likely to be affected than girls, although girls certainly can be affected and if they are it is more likely to occur earlier at about aged 10 to 12 years old.

As the young athletes bones grow quickly, it can take some time for the muscles and tendons to catch up. If the muscles have not adapted to the length of the bones then this can result in additional strain being placed at the point where the muscle attaches to the bone (via the tendon). This is frequent in younger people because their bones are still soft and are not yet fully grown.

Other factors which may increase the likelyhood of suffereing from Osgood Schlatters Disease include biomechancial problems with the foot and lower leg such as over pronation. This is where the foot folls in or flattens too much which in turn causes the lower leg to rotate and additional forces placed at the knee.


There may be very little you can do other than treat the symptoms and rest until pain has gone. Managing the condition is important, for example if the young athlete is a footballer then they may have to reduce competitive game time and hard high impact training and use other sessions to work on basic skills. Or if the young athlete is a runner then they may need to switch a number of session to running in a swimming pool and having fewer low impact running sessions on softer surfaces. A good coach should be able to construct a training program which gives the maximum benefit to the young sports person with the minimum high impact risk.

You may find that the condition comes and goes at random and sometimes you may just have to be patient, rest, apply ice and wait. Continuing to train when it is painful wil just prolong the condition making it more difficult to treat later on.

Professional football physiotherapist Neal Reynolds explains Osgood Schlatters disease