The Young Footballer’s Knee

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The Young Footballer’s Knee

Little soccer forward player boy sitting on field, training

With the World Cup being played, I thought now would be a good time to talk about a very common injury in football, that affects children, in particular boys in the age range of 10-14.  You may have seen children who play football, suffer with knee pain, but never have heard of the reason or diagnosis before. So have you come across Osgood- Schlatter Disease (OSD) before?


What is Osgood- Schlatter Disease (OSD)?

OSD is a very common injury, whereby children who are usually going through a growth spurt, develop anterior knee pain. When the skeleton grows and the muscles can sometimes play catch-up, the overused quad muscle (front thigh muscles) can pull at the tibial tubercle at the front of the knee, causing inflammation and a painful lump to occur. 


What are the symptoms of OSD?

  • Painful/tender on palpation of the tibial tubercle
  • Swelling or pronounced lump at the front of the knee where the tibial tubercle is
  • Pain on exercise or after exercise at rest


How can we treat OSD?

Early management of symptoms is much better than trying to treat this injury when the symptoms are very painful. However it is never too late to intervene and physiotherapy can be excellent at treating OSD.

Ice packs are good for reducing swelling and inflammation after exercise or sport.

  • Stretching the quadriceps muscles is necessary to reduce tightness and tension in the muscle so that it doesn’t pull at the bone.
  • Massaging anti-inflammatory gel into the affected area can help with recovery
  • Strengthening the quadriceps muscles will help with recovery long term.

I would always treat an OSD knee injury as early as possible, however there are usually 2 different groups that sufferers fall into, which will determine how best to manage the condition.


  1. Children that suffer with pain during exercise/sport. These people will need to follow the above treatment and “rest” from activity if they suffer with pain during. Through following the appropriate management, the symptoms will usually settle very quickly and they should be able to commence activity within a couple of weeks of rest.
  2. Children that suffer with pain after exercise but not “during” exercise, may continue to play sport but follow the steps of treatment above to manage their symptoms. As long as the symptoms are improving and not worsening then they can continue as normal.

If you have any questions from the content of this article, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01273 467614 or email me at