SLJ Syndrome in young athletes

SLJ Syndrome in young athletes

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What Is Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome?

Sinding-Larsen-Johansson (SLJ) syndrome is a painful knee condition that most commonly affects teens during periods of rapid growth. Your patella, is connected to your shinbone (tibia) by the patellar tendon. When we’re still growing, the tendon attaches to a growth plate at the bottom of the kneecap. Repetitive stress on the patellar tendon can cause this growth plate to become irritated and inflamed.

Osgood-Schlatter disease is an inflammation of the bone, cartilage, and/or tendon at the top of the shinbone (tibia), where the tendon from the kneecap (patella) attaches. Most often only one knee is affected.

What Are the Symptoms of SLJ?

Here are some signs that knee pain may be SLJ:

  • pain at the front of the knee, near the bottom of the kneecap (this is the main symptom of SLJ)
  • swelling and tenderness around the kneecap
  • pain that increases with exercise or activities like running, climbing stairs, or jumping
  • pain that becomes more severe when kneeling or squatting
  • a swollen or bony bump at the bottom of the kneecap

What Causes SLJ Syndrome?

The large muscle group at the front of the upper leg is called the quadriceps. Every time you straighten your leg, your quadriceps pulls on your patellar tendon to bring your lower leg forward. This puts stress on the growth plate at the bottom of your kneecap.

When we go through a period of rapid growth, our bones and muscles don’t always grow at the same rate. As the bones grow longer, muscles and tendons can become stretched and tight. This adds to the strain on the patellar tendon and on the growth plate it is attached to. Repetitive or excess stress in this area can cause the growth plate to become irritated and painful.

Treatment Options

Since this is an overuse injury, underuse is a good form of treatment. Ice and stretching are always a great way to prevent and manage the symptoms. Considering it takes one to two years for the bone growth plates that make up the inferior pole of the patella to grow together and form one solid bone. At this point, pain and symptoms usually go away completely. As symptoms ease, working on flexibility, strength, and muscle balance in the knee will help prevent the symptoms. Posture exercises can help improve knee alignment as well as special shoe inserts, called orthotics, to support flat feet or to correct knock-kneed posture.

Graston technique, Kinesio tape and Active Release Technique are all effective tools we use in the clinic to help lengthen the quadricep muscles, reduce the adhesive fibers to allow better function of the muscles and at the same time give your child the opportunity to continue the sports they enjoy without making the condition worse.

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