Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter Disease in Lafayette, LA
Despite its name, Osgood-Schlatter disease is not actually a disease. Rather, it is a common but temporary condition that causes knee pain in older children and teenagers, especially those who play sports or engage in other activities that involve repetitive jumping and twisting. Some examples include hockey, basketball, volleyball, soccer, skating, gymnastics, and ballet. The movements involved in these activities can sometimes overstress the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap to the lower leg bone (tibia). More specifically, as the thigh muscle (quadriceps) pulls tightly against the kneecap and the kneecap’s anchor, the patellar tendon, the tendon can become painfully inflamed at its attachment point (the tibial tuberosity).
Why Does Osgood-Schlatter Disease Primarily Affect Children?
During childhood, when the bones are growing rapidly and the patellar tendon is relatively short, the tibial tuberosity is particularly vulnerable to stress and injury. Osgood-Schlatter disease often develops during a growth spurt, which typically occurs between ages 10 and 16 in girls, and between ages 11 and 18 in boys.
The symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease usually appear gradually as a result of repetitive stress on the patellar tendon. The associated discomfort may take the form of pain, tenderness, and/or swelling in the soft tissues at the top of the shin bone, just below the kneecap. In some children, the pain occurs only during physical activity; in others, it is constant. In most cases, the condition lasts from six to 18 months, then resolves on its own.
If a child’s symptoms point to Osgood-Schlatter disease, a physician may order X-rays or other imaging studies to further evaluate the patellar tendon attachment to the tibial tubercle and confirm the diagnosis.
How Is Osgood-Schlatter Disease Treated?
Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease may or may not be necessary depending on the severity of the symptoms. It may be uncomfortable to participate in physical activities, and severe symptoms should be essentially resolved before returning to aggressive sports. With that said, continued activity can help maintain the strength of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, which is essential for a full recovery.
The following options may be helpful for controlling the symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease:
- Wearing shock-absorbing insoles
- Wearing protective shin pads during sports
- Applying a heating pad before physical activity, and an ice pack afterward
- Taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Performing stretches and strengthening exercises that target the quadriceps and hamstring muscles
Consult With an Orthopedic Specialist
Peter D. Vizzi, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who treats patients for a number of orthopedic conditions, including Osgood Schlatter disease, patellar tendonitis, and patellofemoral pain. If your child has knee pain, contact Dr. Vizzi’s office in Lafayette, Louisiana, to request an appointment today.