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Written by our Human Movement Specialists

Sports participation can sometimes come with unexpected lumps & bumps for young athletes, figuratively and literally. In this case, it's a literal lump called Osgood-Schlatter disease. And it's not so much a disease but a condition resulting in a painful bump just below the knee. If left untreated, it can cause knee pain and discomfort, hindering athletic performance and limiting participation in sports.

Don't let knee pain get in the way! Read on to learn everything you need to know about Osgood-Schlatter disease.

What is Osgood-Schlatter Disease?

Osgood-Schlatter Disease is a type of knee pain that is most common in teens during growth spurts when the end of the bones are still made of cartilage. Since cartilage isn't as strong as bones, the stress can cause the area to hurt and swell. Adolescents who are physically active and play sports put more stress on the body and are more prone to this disease.

Also known as tibial tubercle apophyseal traction injury, it's characterized by inflammation and irritation at the point where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone, just below the kneecap. This leads to the formation of a painful lump or bump, which can make physical activities challenging.

Teenage boys which osgood-schlatter disease playing basketball

What causes Osgood-Sclatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease primarily affects kids, typically between the ages of 10 and 15, when they're sprouting like weeds. Although the exact cause of Osgood-Schlatter disease isn't fully understood, it's thought to be related to the discrepancy in growth rates between bones and soft tissues. As bones grow rapidly, the muscles and tendons struggle to keep up, leading to stress and strain on the growth plate at the head of the shinbone. This repetitive stress can eventually result in inflammation and pain.

Risk factors of Osgood-Schlatter disease

Although Osgood-Schlatter disease can occur in anyone in adolescence, several factors can increase the risk of developing this condition:

  1. Sports enthusiasts: Kids who engage in sports or activities that involve repetitive knee movements, such as running, jumping, and kicking, are more susceptible to Osgood-Schlatter disease. All those movements can put extra stress and strain on the patellar, leading to irritation and inflammation.

  2. Muscle mismatch: Tight muscles and muscle imbalances around the knee can contribute to the development of Osgood-Schlatter disease. Imbalanced muscle strength and flexibility can put additional stress on the patellar tendon, exacerbating symptoms.

  3. Family ties: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing Osgood-Schlatter disease. The risk may be higher if there is a family history of the condition. It also tends to affect biologically born males more often than females.

While these factors increase the likelihood of developing Osgood-Schlatter disease, it doesn't guarantee the development of the condition.

Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease

Keeping an eye out for the signs and symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease is key for early diagnosis and treatment. Here are some common things to watch out for:

  1. Knee pain: The most noticeable symptom of Osgood-Schlatter disease is knee pain, usually just below the kneecap. The pain may worsen during physical activities, especially running, jumping, or kneeling. It may also be more pronounced after a period of inactivity.

  2. Swelling and tenderness: In addition to knee pain, individuals with Osgood-Schlatter disease may experience swelling and tenderness around the affected area. The lump or bump that forms just below the knee may be warm to the touch and sensitive to pressure.

  3. Limited range of motion: Osgood-Schlatter disease can lead to a limited range of motion in the knee joint. Activities requiring bending or straightening the knee may be difficult or painful.

  4. Stiffness and muscle tightness: Tightness and stiffness in the muscles surrounding the knee, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings, are common symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease. These muscle imbalances can contribute to the overall discomfort and pain experienced.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it's time to call in the pros. A visit to your Healthcare Professional will give you a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment options

Close up of a knee with a Push Sports patellar tendon strap for the treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease

Treatment options for Osgood-Schlatter disease

Sever's disease might be a bump in the road, but it's not a roadblock! The game plan for treating Osgood-Schlatter disease focuses on managing pain and inflammation, promoting healing, and preventing further injury. The specific treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual's unique circumstances. Options include:

  1. Take a break: The first line of treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease is usually rest and activity modification. Avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms, such as running or jumping, can help reduce stress on the knee and promote healing.

  2. Hot and cold: Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Ice should be applied for about 15-20 minutes at a time, several times daily. After the initial acute phase, heat therapy, such as warm compresses or warm showers, may promote blood circulation and soothe sore muscles.

  3. Bracing yourself: Wearing a knee brace or patellar tendon strap to reduce tension on the patellar tendon can provide support and stability to the knee and aid in pain relief during physical activities.

The upside of Osgood-Schlatter disease is that it typically resolves once growth is complete. Most individuals recover fully without any long-term complications.

Visit a location and talk to one of our Movement Specialists to learn more!


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