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Understanding and Managing Osgood-Schlatter Disease: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Mar 11



Osgood-Schlatter Disease (OSD) is a common knee condition in active adolescents, the swelling of the knee causes pain during and post-exercise. These symptoms can affect exercise duration, movement quality, and sports performance. Therefore, this can be a difficult injury for a young person to manage and overcome. This guide will give you a good understanding of the condition, why it occurs, and how to manage it. 


What is Osgood-Schlatter Disease?

All adolescents are going through a period of growth. During this period, growth plates, which are situated on our bones, become soft. Our muscles attach to our bones to allow movement to occur. At the knee, our quadricep muscle attaches just below the kneecap to a part of the bone called the tibial tuberosity (top of the shin bone). This part of the bone can become soft in stages of growth as a young adult and will cause inflammation when the quadriceps are used. As the muscle is contracting and relaxing through exercise, the growth plate will become sore and sometimes a small nodule can be felt. This can vary in severity with each individual but is important to manage the symptoms to prevent further injury. 


Causes and Risk Factors

Osgood-Schlatter Disease is prevalent in active adolescents due to exercise exacerbating the symptoms. The more exercise you do, the more the muscle is used and the more the growth plate is irritated. Pain can vary in severity throughout a young person’s growth, usually becoming most intense before the ‘growth spurt’ or period of rapid growth. However, it is common for symptoms to persist, especially in very active individuals. 


Symptoms 

Pain! The knee will become sore, specifically when exercise is first commenced. This pain can proceed throughout exercise, increasing with intensity, in severe cases, the pain will prevent the individual from being able to continue. The knee can become swollen, and inflammation will increase pain. In some cases, a small nodule of bone can be felt or sometimes seen just below the kneecap. This is the area of the muscle attachment and when palpated will be the area of most intense pain.  


Osgood-Schlatter Treatment

Due to the nature of this condition, the best approach is to manage the symptoms. Managing the training load, with less physical training and creating a more skill-based or psychological training session. Appropriate rest following training is essential to allow the inflammation to reduce, this may be achieved by reducing the amount of training days completed throughout the week. Taping can also be used for pain relief during exercise sessions. 


Osgood-Schlatter Exercises 

Strengthening exercises with isometric contractions, for example, a wall sit will activate the quadriceps muscle without movement, eliminating tension at the growth plate. Balance and proprioceptive exercises are also crucial during this stage of development as the body is constantly growing and changing, therefore introducing exercises that challenge cognitive function will improve the efficiency of movements and help prevent injury. Flexibility exercises will help reduce pain by increasing muscle suppleness, thus reducing the amount of pull on the growth plate. 


Preventing OSD 

Unfortunately, OSD cannot be prevented completely, however, noticing symptoms as early as possible will allow an earlier intervention which can reduce the severity of symptoms and time off from activity. 


Coping mechanisms 

Staying involved in your sport. If you are involved in team sports, it is essential to stay part of the team and continue learning - taking a different role within the team and assisting the coach. If you are in individual sports, speak with your coach and tailor sessions to your needs. For example, decreasing physical demands and increasing technical or psychological aspects. Staying involved will reduce the mental strain of dealing with the condition and can also help development in a different part of your sport. 


Seeking Professional Help

When symptoms develop, it is always good to seek medical advice. This will give you clarity over your condition, confidence in managing the symptoms, and a pathway to return back to full involvement.  


Conclusion

This guide is aimed to empower both adolescents and their support systems with knowledge and resources when dealing with Osgood-Schlatter Disease. Dealing with OSD is a process and can take time, it is important to be patient, manage the symptoms, and stay involved! If you found this information helpful, don’t forget to share it with others who might benefit. 


P.S. Does your young athlete suffer from Osgood-Schlatter Disease? If so, book in with our expert Ash now to help guide them through these pains. 👇🏼





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