Osgood Schlatter’s disease refers to an injury to the bone growth plate in the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee cap, which occurs in younger athletes. It is more a condition than disease.
The large muscle on the front of the thigh (quadriceps) attaches to the shin bone via the patellar tendon. The function of this tendon is to transmit forces produced by the thigh muscle to the shin to support and move the knee joint.
In children the portion of the shin bone into which the patellar tendon inserts is separated from the bulk of the shin bone by a growth plate. This growth plate enables bone growth to occur. However, it also represents a site of weakness in the bone. Forcible and repeated contraction of the thigh muscle can injure the growth plate. This commonly occurs in sports which involve running and jumping and occurs during a period of rapid growth. During rapid growth, the thigh muscle and patellar tendon become tighter as the bones grow. This leads to increased pulling of the thigh muscle and patellar tendon on the shin bone and growth plate.
In less severe cases stopping the adolescent athlete from sport alone in compliance with physiotherapy can be enough (Narayan, Mitchell and Latimer, 2015); however, this can be lengthy and rehabilitation takes time.
Narayan N., Mitchell P. D. and Latimer M. D., 2015, Complete resolution of symptoms of refractory Osgood-Schlatter disease following percutaneous fixation of the tibial tuberosity, BMJ Case Reports, 10.1136/bcr-2014-206734