Osgood-Schlatter Disease: Stretches & Exercises for Knee Pain
How to Deal With Osgood Schlatter Disease
Osgood Schlatter disease (OSD) is an inflammation of the knee and shinbone area. It is most frequently seen in young athletes, especially those that do lots of running and jumping. With proper treatment, OSD can be managed and will usually disappear by a person’s late teens. Your first step is to consult with your doctor and develop a plan of care. This will usually involve resting, icing, stretching, and perhaps visiting with a physical therapist. Building up your muscles through body resistance and muscle balance exercises can be helpful as well.
Seeking Out Treatment
Make a doctor’s appointment.Schedule to meet with your primary care physician will diagnose you with OSD and start a treatment plan. At your initial appointment, expect your doctor to feel around the knee area and ask about your level of activity. They may also request that you do a series of movements, including jumping or walking.
- OSD usually doesn't cause crippling pain, excessive swelling, or heavy discoloration. If you have any of these symptoms, you may need to get emergency assistance immediately instead of waiting for a doctor's appointment
- You may be referred to an orthopedic specialist if your condition does not improve.
Get a set of x-rays.Prepare to get a series of x-rays at your initial doctor’s appointment. This will help your doctor to confirm a diagnosis of OSD. It will also be one of the best ways of tracking your healing progress in the future.
Rule out other disorders.If your doctor is uncertain about an OSD diagnosis, then they may request that you see a sports medicine physician or orthopedic specialist for an additional examination. This is an important step as the symptoms of OSD can closely mimic some other conditions, such as patellar tendonitis.
- If at any point during the process you want extra information, feel free to seek out a second opinion before agreeing to any treatment plan.
Pay attention to both knees.Even if just one of your knees is currently bothering you, it may be a good idea to ask your doctor to monitor both sides just in case. People affected by OSD actually experience it in both knees about 25% of the time. Regardless, the reduction in your activity level will likely help both knees to heal.
Minimizing Pain and Discomfort
Apply heat or cold.It is best to apply a heat pack or wrap about a half-hour before any physical activity. Then, when you are done, ice the area or apply a cold wrap immediately and keep it going for about 20 minutes. This will reduce swelling and allow your knee to heal.
- Even during rest days it can be therapeutic to ice your knee for 20 minutes every 3 hours or so. Be careful with putting ice directly on your skin as it can cause burns. Use a wrap or ice pack.
Take anti-inflammatory medication.Analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can help to reduce swelling and minimize pain. They may not shorten your period of healing overly much, but they can make you more comfortable during the process. Make sure to follow any dosing directions carefully.
Wear padded insoles and knee pads.If you decide to continue with sports, then you may need to wear shock-absorbing insoles in your shoes. This will minimize the pressure placed on your knees. When playing a sport that requires kneeling or bending, like wrestling, then it’s a good idea to wear fitted pads to protect your knees.
- Just any insoles or knee pads won’t do. Buy yours at a sporting goods store to make sure that they will hold up well with lots of movement.
Wear a brace or cast.Casts are usually only used in the most severe cases of OSD with adults. Most OSD patients are given a brace, such as a stabilizing knee wrap or patella strap, for optional use during physical activities. Your doctor may ask that you wear this brace off-and-on for up to 8 weeks.
- Your doctor may also give you a set of crutches if walking causes you pain.
- A patella strap works by spreading out shock absorption around the entire knee area, so that they tendon does not do all of the work.
Agree to surgery only in limited cases.Surgery for OSD is quite rare and used only in the most extreme cases. In adolescents, the most common sufferers of OSD, their skeleton is still forming, which makes invasive bone procedures more problematic. If your doctor does recommend surgery, consider seeking out a second opinion.
Expect symptoms to lessen with age.In many cases, the most severe OSD symptoms will entirely disappear by the time that a person completes their adolescent growth spurt. So, at the age of 14 for girls and 16 for boys, you should see some improvement in pain levels and range of motion.
- While the interior of the knee will improve, be aware that your child may still have a bump present on the front of their affected knee, called a tubercle.
Healing Your Body
Work with a physical therapist.Working with a PT specialist is a great way to ease back into exercising and sports. Your primary care doctor will likely give you a PT referral along with your OSD diagnosis. While in PT, the practitioner will show you how to properly stretch before and after exercise to ensure the health of your knee.
- Your physical therapist might also manually stimulate your knee by moving it around or side-to-side.
Limit your exercise activity.Rest and relaxation is the one of the best treatment avenues for OSD. Your doctor may request that you avoid any jumping, sprinting, or weight training that puts stress on the knee area. Or, your doctor may ask that you avoid all physical activity for a period of months. Following their orders closely will get you back in action sooner.
- Even when you feel 100% you may need to modify some of your sports activities. For example, if you are a runner, you may need to start exercising on a soft surface, such as turf.
Do body strength exercises.To keep your muscle definition while still resting, rely on exercises that require you to manipulate or lift your own body weight. Dips, rows, chin-ups, and push-ups are all safe exercises to complete while recovering from OSD.
Follow treatment recommendations for stretching.Your physical therapist will give you a series of exercises or stretches to do for your OSD. Keep this list or printout on hand and follow their instructions. Completing stretches for your hamstring and quadriceps can be particularly useful when healing from OSD. These reduce tension in the leg and knee area while improving blood flow.
- To complete a lying hamstring stretch, get down with your back on the floor. Place part of a rope under the ball of one foot. Slowly raise your leg by pulling on your end of the rope. Keep your opposite leg against the ground. Hold your raised leg up in the air for 30 seconds before slowly letting it down.
- Continuing with a regular pattern of before and after exercise stretching can also help to prevent a reoccurrence of OSD.
Work on muscle balance.Watch to make sure that you are not favoring just one side of your body while minimizing the other. Emphasize balancing out muscular function by switching sides while batting, rotating on all exercises, and not overcompensating for your OSD knee. If you put too much stress on your non-OSD side, then it can develop its own problems.
Limit sports specialization.More and more health professionals are suggesting that young athletes, in particular, practice a wide variety of sports instead of devoting all of their time and talents to just one. This will help prevent the overuse of particular muscle groups and bones, such as the knee. Taking a break in between seasons is also helpful.
QuestionWhat if the child with OSD has it in both knees?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo to the physiotherapist so they can check it out. They will need to put tape on the area.Thanks!
Ive had OSD since I was 9 and a half and Im 13 now and it hasnt gone away. It still hurts and I dont know what to do.
- Make sure that your child has sufficient vitamin C and calcium. These help to build bones and speed healing.
- Early recognition of symptoms and treatment will reduce amount of time needed to recover and rest from sports or other activities you enjoy.
Video: AllSports Medicine - Osgood-Schlatter
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