Managing Osgood-Schlatter Disease Strategies for Relief and Recovery and Return to Play

Managing Osgood-Schlatter Disease: Strategies for Relief and Recovery and Return to Play

It’s that time of the year, where adolescents are returning to school after a big summer break. With the return of school, it usually comes with the return of sport. After being more actively involved with sporting clubs, I’ve noticed quite a few adolescents getting knee pain at this time of year. Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common condition among adolescents, particularly those involved in sports that require repetitive running, jumping and change of direction. It presents as knee pain under the bony prominence beneath the kneecap, typically occurring during growth spurts in combination with an increase in training load. It can be uncomfortable and affect daily activities and sports participation. Effective management strategies can help alleviate symptoms and support recovery and get you back to what you love doing most. In this blog, we’ll explore the causes, symptoms, and various management techniques for Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Understanding Osgood-Schlatter Disease:

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition that affects the growth plate in the knee. During periods of rapid growth, the bones, muscles, and tendons may grow at different rates, leading to tension and stress on the growth plate. This stress can result in inflammation, pain, and swelling below the kneecap, where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone.

Symptoms typically include:

Pain and tenderness below the kneecap, especially during physical activity or when climbing stairs.
Swelling and a bump or prominence at the top of the shinbone, just below the kneecap.
Tightness or stiffness in the thigh muscles (quadriceps).

While Osgood-Schlatter disease often resolves on its own once growth is complete, there are several management strategies to help alleviate discomfort, pain and return to enjoying what you do most!

Management Strategies: Rest and Activity Modification

○ Resting the affected knee will reduce pain and inflammation. We don’t want inactivity as we will lose muscle through muscle wasting. A strength program to build strength through your glutes, quads, hamstrings and lower limb muscles in a pain free range is important.

○ Avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms, such as running and jumping is important with a flare up. Trying to “push through” will only increase the pain & inflammation in the area.

○ Low-impact activities like swimming or cycling may be more comfortable and can help maintain fitness levels while minimizing stress on the knees.

Ice Therapy:

○ Applying ice packs to the affected knee for 20 minutes several times a day can help reduce pain and swelling.

Strengthening Exercises & release work:

➢ Strengthening exercises targeting the muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and lower limb muscles will provide great support for the knee.
➢ An assessment of the knee is necessary as a practitioner can modify exercises so they aren’t causing pain, but are targeting these muscles to improve strength in a pain free range.
➢ Release work with either a foam roller, spikey ball or self massage through the quadricep muscles is beneficial, as the quad muscles form into a common quadricep tendon that attaches onto the bony prominence of the knee. When “tight”, these muscles will have greater pull on the bony prominence at the front of the knee, causing more pain.

Proper Footwear and Taping:

○ Wearing supportive footwear with adequate cushioning and shock absorption can help reduce impact and pressure on the knees during physical activity.
○ Applying tape around the patella tendon compresses it. As a result, the way forces transmit through the tendon changes, which can feel nice. Gradual Return to Activity:
○ Once symptoms improve, gradually reintroduce activities and sports, starting with low-impact exercises and gradually increasing intensity and duration. ○ At 13th Beach Health Services, we can facilitate this by slowly exposing you in game specific exercises.
○ Listen to your body and avoid pushing through pain. If discomfort persists, scale back activity and consult an osteopath or physiotherapist.

In conclusion, Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common cause of knee pain in adolescents, particularly those engaged in physical activities. While it typically resolves with time and proper management, it can be uncomfortable and affect daily activities and sports participation. By implementing strategies such as rest, ice therapy, strengthening, and proper footwear, individuals can alleviate symptoms, improve strength around the knee, and safely return to their normal activities. However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan, especially in cases of persistent or severe symptoms. With the right approach, individuals can effectively manage Osgood-Schlatter disease and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Credit: The image used in this blog is from Rehab My Patient