You might be surprised to learn that ‘growth spurts’ can cause pain for growing bodies. If your child is suffering, your Musculoskeletal Practitioner may be able to assist. Contact Michael to arrange a time.

A Helpful Recommendation for All Growing Children

Keep a Progressive Growth Chart

From the age of 9 and until their offspring have stopped growing, parents should measuring their kids’ height every 4 weeks. By regularly checking for growth spurts, parents can see accelerated growth periods, and be prepared to seek professional help before these growth spurts become a problem.

At any one time, we all have a finite supply of energy available to us.  When a growth spurt occurs, the body needs to divert some energy to assist the growth process and, therefore, less energy will be available for other activities, including sport.

During the growth spurt, athletic performance may temporarily stagnate or even fall off.  If this occurs, it is extra important that the young performer gets plenty of sleep.  Do not feel too discouraged if performances do diminish, and parents should encourage their children with the confidence that they can look forward to much better sporting results when their bodies become bigger and stronger.

Why Growth Spurts Create Pain

Growth Spurts can result in pain because the bones tend to grow faster than the soft tissues, particularly the muscles. The pain can be felt in a number of different locations. Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome, Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome and Sever’s are three of the major consequential syndromes.

The key difference between Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome and Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome is the location where the pain is encountered:

  • With Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome the pain is felt about two finger widths below the distal edge of the patella on the front of the tibia (shinbone) at a point called the tibial tuberosity.
  • With Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome (SLJ) the pain is felt just underneath the patella where it sits in the patellar groove at the distal end of the front of the femur (thighbone).

Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome

Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome (or Disease) and Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome are knee conditions that occur frequently in growing adolescents, typically in the age range from 12 to 15, but I have treated sufferers as young as 9 and as old as 20.  These can affect both boys and girls, especially those involved in sports with an emphasis on running and jumping.

What is Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome ?

With Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome the femur (the longest bone in the body) grows faster than the four powerful quadricep muscles.   The four quad muscles are attached at their top to the hipbone and the lower ends of the quads are attached to the patella.  The patella is then connected by one patellar tendon to a small cartilage growth plate attached on the tibial tuberosity.

As the femur grows, the slower growing quad muscles cannot keep up with the lengthening of the femur, causing extreme tension in the quads, resulting in severe irritation of the growth plate and causing pain on the tibial tuberosity.  The overloading of the growth plate can cause the formation of a small lump of bone on the tibial tuberosity.

Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome Treatment

Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome should not be ignored.  Seek the help of your Musculoskeletal Practitioner as soon as the pain presents itself.  Early treatment and the right advice is vital so that the children can gain pain relief and get back to their chosen sport and recreational activities as soon as possible.  Just taking painkillers and trying to ignore the problem can allow it to become much worse.

The treatment methods that I use, including SCENAR Therapy (see What Is SCENAR?), have proved to be highly effective in treating Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome.  Treatment must focus on relieving the pain and inflammation, together with releasing the extreme tension in the quad muscles.

If this condition is ignored, in a worst-case scenario, the patellar tendon can be pulled off the tibia, the patella can be pulled up the thigh and the only option is surgery to re-attach the patellar tendon where it belongs!

Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome

With Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome, the inability of the quad muscles to keep up with the rate of growth of the femur means that, especially when the knee is bent, the pain is felt underneath the patella as it is pressed into the patellar groove at the distal end of the front of the femur (thighbone).

For treating Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome the Musculoskeletal Therapy protocols required are similar to those used for Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome.

Sever’s Syndrome (Sever’s Disease)

Sever’s Syndrome is another growth spurt condition that affects adolescents, but this one can cause pain in the Achilles tendon, calcaneus (heelbone) and plantar fascia.  Sever’s is not really a disease.  It is better described as a heel injury.

In Sever’s Syndrome the tibia (the second longest bone in the body) and the calcaneus grow at a faster rate than the calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and the soleus), resulting in a tightening of the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon, pain at the growth plate attachment of the Achilles tendon to the calcaneus, and pain in the plantar fascia.

Sever’s Syndrome is more common in boys than in girls.   Boys tend to have later growth spurts, usually develop stronger muscles, and typically get the condition between the ages of 10 and 15.   With girls who have Sever’s, it usually occurs between 8 and 13 years.

As with both Osgood-Schlatter’s and Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndromes, for Sever’s, as soon as the pain presents itself, seek the help of your Musculoskeletal Practitioner, who will be able to provide treatment and advise you of appropriate support icing, stretching and other routines you should carry out at home. 

The best recommended treatment methods are very similar for all three of these conditions.