Osgood Schlatter disease is a common condition that affects up to twenty percent of people who play sports. Characterized by pain and a bony protrusion on the shinbone, Osgood Schlatter usually resolves with time, though complications can occur if the right treatment is not found. While children and teenagers tend to be most affected by Osgood Schlatter disease, in adults it can sometimes cause lasting symptoms.
Read on to learn more about Osgood Schlatter Disease—it’s symptoms, causes, and the many treatment options available.
Osgood Schlatter disease causes inflammation in the region just under the knee, where the kneecap tendon (patellar tendon) attaches to the shinbone. It tends to occur in older children and adolescents who are undergoing growth spurts. Rapid changes in the bones, muscles, and tendons—coupled with physical activity—increases the risk of damage to the knees and legs.
Those who experienced the condition as children are more likely to experience the same symptoms as adults.
What Causes Osgood Schlatter Disease?
The main Osgood Schlatter disease cause is repeated stress on the tendon that links the kneecap to the shinbone, especially when experienced during the growth spurts of puberty. Regular running or jumping is usually the primary cause of this type of stress.
Over time, the stress can cause the tendon to pull—leading to a gap. In some people, new bone will grow in order to close the gap, resulting in a bony lump under the knee.
Several factors can increase the risk of getting Osgood Schlatter disease, including:
The condition most commonly occurs during puberty. For girls, it is most prevalent between the ages of ten and thirteen, while boys of twelve to fourteen years of age are most at risk.
Traditionally, boys have been more prone to Osgood Schlatter disease. However, more girls are engaging in sports now which is narrowing the gap between the sexes.
Choice of Activity
Those who engage in activities that put pressure on the knees tend to be at higher risk of the condition.
Some of the most stressful activities for the knee joints include running, jumping, and rapidly changing direction. Therefore, Osgood Schlatter disease often affects children that enjoy basketball, ballet, volleyball, gymnastics, and soccer.
Level of Flexibility
If the quadriceps muscles—the large muscles at the front and sides of the thighs—are tight, it can increase the risk of Osgood Schlatter disease. This is because tight quads increase tension in the tendon between the kneecap and shinbone.
Osgood Schlatter Disease Symptoms
The most noticeable signs and symptoms of Osgood Schlatter disease are pain and swelling around and below the kneecap.
Other Osgood Schlatter symptoms include:
A bony bump on the shinbone, just under the kneecap
Pain that gets worse when running, kneeling, or jumping
Symptoms may occur in one or both knees and can last for many months. Long-term complications are uncommon, but some adults have Osgood Schlatter disease symptoms throughout their lives, including chronic knee pain, swelling, and a lasting bump.
An Osgood Schlatter disease diagnosis may be carried out by a doctor who will take:
Your medical history
A detailed account of symptoms
Information on your level of activity
A physical examination to check for pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness
In most cases of suspected Osgood Schlatter disease, radiology is used to confirm a diagnosis. Therefore, your doctor will likely carry out an Osgood Schlatter disease X-ray to check the area around the kneecap and to look at the surrounding bones in the leg.
Osgood Schlatter Disease Treatment
Treatment for Osgood Schlatter disease is not always necessary. Many children and adolescents find their symptoms resolve once the growth spurt is over. For Osgood Schlatter disease in adults, treatment usually involves reducing discomfort and preventing further inflammation.
See some of the most popular and effective treatment options below.
Pain usually eases when resting the knee and leg. It can also be helpful to avoid doing activities that exacerbate symptoms, such as kneeling, running, and jumping. If swelling is present, you may find relief after propping up your knee on some cushions until it is above heart level.
Cold therapy can reduce pain and inflammation. You should apply an ice pack for twenty minutes following physical activity, and periodically repeat this treatment throughout the day. For best results, we recommend using an ice pack specially designed for legs.
Osgood Schlatter Disease Stretches
Stretching and strengthening exercises for Osgood Schlatter disease are particularly important. You’ll want to focus on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves to prevent unequal stress on specific tendons.
Step 1:Lie on your back on the floor or mat and slowly bend one knee up and grasp the thigh with your hands.
Step 2:Pull the leg gently and slowly toward the chest. Relax the pull so that your thigh is perpendicular to your torso.
Step 3:Straighten the leg as much as you can, so that it points toward the ceiling. Hold for fifteen seconds.
Step 4:Bend the knee for five seconds and straighten again. Repeat this process three times. Alternate legs and repeat.
Standing Wall Calf Stretch
Step 1:Stand one or two feet away from a wall and place your hands on it at eye level.
Step 2:Keep one leg on the floor and move the other forward, slowly pressing the toes of that foot into the wall.
Step 3:Push your hips forward for a greater stretch along the back of the calf. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each leg, several times daily.
Step 1:Stand within arm’s length of a wall for support. With one hand, reach behind you and raise your leg up so you can grasp your ankle.
Step 2:Pull your heel toward your buttocks, keeping the knees together at all times.
Step 3:Make sure that your back is straight and not arched. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each leg, several times a day.
Straight Leg Raise
Step 1:Lie down on the floor. Keep the injured knee straight and point the toes toward the ceiling.
Step 2:Bend the other leg at the knee and place the foot on the floor. Flex the thigh muscles of the injured leg and lift it off the floor, until both thighs are in alignment.
Step 3:Slowly, and in a controlled manner, lower the leg to the floor. Repeat fifteen times, doing two sets of fifteen repetitions.
As you begin to regain your strength, you may wish to increase the intensity of your exercises using resistance bands.
Osgood Schlatter Disease Brace
Use a knee brace for all-day support and comfort, fitted with breathable neoprene material. ( See product )
To protect your knee and reduce pain when working out, try an Osgood Schlatter disease knee brace. The best braces are comfortable, supportive, and durable, allowing you to enjoy the activities you love without fear of worsening your injury.
See how hinged support braces add additional stability to your walk, run, or daily activities. ( See product )
Whether you want to go with a basic brace, or one with hinged support, you can be sure it will speed your recovery.
Knee Bands for Osgood Schlatter Disease
Slim and discreet, these knee bands can be worn all day without getting in the way! ( See product )
Using a knee strap for Osgood Schlatter disease can be an effective and inexpensive way of alleviating your pain. They are more discreet than a full knee brace, yet they still stabilize the knee joint during activities while also distributing stress more evenly throughout the leg.
Wearing shock-absorbing insoles reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the knee, leg, and foot. These types of shoe insoles also benefit the back, hips, and knees. So, what are you waiting for? Check them out here.
For some people with Osgood Schlatter disease, physical therapy can bring significant benefits. A physical therapist can recommend and supervise a program of stretches for Osgood Schlatter disease, and well as helping with activity modification and additional supports.
If your pain and swelling are severe or interfering with your daily activities or quality of life, discuss the possibility of medication with your doctor. They may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin IB), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
When it comes to Osgood Schlatter, surgery is rarely helpful. However, severe Osgood Schlatter disease may require an operation to remove the bony protrusion or bony fragments under the knee. This is usually only carried out if the pain is debilitating and doesn’t respond to other treatments.
Products that Help Reduce Osgood Schlatter Disease
Recovery times vary from person to person. Typically, symptoms of Osgood Schlatter disease persist for between six and eighteen months. Most children and adolescents with the condition will experience relief once they finish growing, or by the age of eighteen. However, they may always have a painless bump below the knee.
It’s believed that up to 60 percent of adults who had Osgood Schlatter disease as a child will have some pain when kneeling down. Less commonly, they may have pain or swelling at the site of the injury that is ongoing or flares up after activity or trauma.
Finding Relief from Osgood Schlatter Disease
Most people who have Osgood Schlatter disease as a child will enjoy a full recovery once they stop growing. If you are one of those who experiences symptoms into adulthood, then there are many ways you can alleviate pain and swelling and manage this chronic condition. Speak with your doctor if you have any of the symptoms of Osgood Schlatter disease so that they can help you formulate the best treatment plan for your needs.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at ViveHealth.com. With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.
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