Osgood-Schlatter disease factsheet


Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition that causes slowly growing pain and swelling in the growth plate at the top of the shin bone in the lower leg. This area is found slightly below the kneecap.

Growth plates help bones grow into the length and width they will be when your child becomes an adult. They are strong but flexible discs of tissue called cartilage, usually found at the ends of bones. Growth plates are weaker than bone, so they are more at risk of injury as your child grows.

In Osgood-Schlatter disease, the muscles and tendons in the heel can become tight and pull on the growth plate as it slowly grows into adult bone. This causes swelling and pain.

Osgood-Schlatter disease is common in children between the ages of 10 and 14 who are going through puberty and growth spurts.

It is even more common in children who play sports or do activities that involve:

  • back and forth movements in the knee
  • running
  • jumping.

Common sports that can trigger Osgood-Schlatter disease include:

  • soccer
  • rugby (league, AFL, and union)
  • hockey
  • basketball
  • netball
  • tennis
  • ballet
  • running.

Osgood-Schlatter disease will not happen again after the growth plate has finished growing.

 Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease can happen in one or both knees and generally include:

  • pain that slowly gets worse over time rather than starting suddenly
  • pain that gets worse when there is pressure on the knee, like when walking upstairs
  • swelling and redness
  • stiffness 
  • limping or other changes to how your child walks.

See your local doctor or physiotherapist as soon as possible if your child starts to develop pain or discomfort during sports and activities, even if it is mild.


Your child's local doctor or physiotherapist will do a physical check if they think there could be Osgood-Schlatter disease. They might ask your child to gently move their knee to see where and how severe the pain is. They will also ask about your child's sports and activities and how regularly they do them.

Scans like X-rays are not needed unless your child's doctor thinks there is another cause of the pain.


Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter's disease will depend on how severe the pain is.

Your child's doctor may recommend:

  • taking a break from activities that involve running and jumping until the symptoms get better
  • putting an ice-back on the knee for 20 minutes after activity or walking that causes pain to flare up
  • seeing a physiotherapist to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles at the front of the thigh
  • checking your child's movement and pain when they go through growth spurts.

Speak to your child's doctor about medications to help with pain or swelling.

With good rest and treatment, your child's pain should slowly go away.


Returning to sports and activity

Your child should be able to slowly return to sports and activity when symptoms get better. 

If your child's symptoms are more severe, they may need to take a break for 1-2 seasons of sport to help with recovery.

Speak to your child's doctor or physiotherapist if you are unsure or if your child needs to modify any movements to reduce pain.

Speak to your child's school, coaches, or other activity coordinators to make sure there is a plan in place to help your child have a safe and pain-free return to their activities.

Long-term issues with Osgood-Schlatter disease

A small number of children who have Osgood-Schlatter disease can develop a lump of bone growth or calcium below the knee. This bump can be painful and may not go away even after the bone has finished growing.

Your child's doctor may recommend surgery to remove the lump if it is causing ongoing pain.

Some children will have other issues with the structure of their legs and feet that can make Osgood-Schlatter disease more likely to happen.

These can include:

  • knock-knees – where the knees point inwards and touch while the ankles are apart
  • flat feet - where the bones and tissue in the arch of the foot touch the ground.

Your child's doctor and physiotherapist will check for other conditions before diagnosing Osgood-Schlatter disease and may recommend other treatments.

See your local doctor if your child's pain does not improve after treatment. 

Preventing Osgood-Schlatter disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease can start very slowly, so setting your child up with good habits is important to prevent the condition.

Good habits for sports and activities include:

  • taking regular breaks and stopping as soon as there is pain
  • stretching regularly
  • warming up before the activity
  • cooling down after the activity
  • wearing shoes that fit well, have good support, and absorb shock from running and jumping
  • wearing protective kneepads
  • taking time to learn proper techniques for sports that involve jumping, running and impact on the knees.
Last updated Tuesday 30th January 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024