Osgood Schlatter disease – symptoms and treatment
Osgood Schlatter disease affects the knee and can cause severe pain. It is a relatively common diagnosis in children and young people, particularly in boys. Those in the widest risk zone are children and teenagers aged 8 to 15, mainly those who play sports which involve a lot of jumping and running, for example football, volleyball and basketball. It is especially common for children who grow very rapidly and at the same time load their knees. Osgood Schlatter disease presents itself when the lining of the thigh muscle, which is located in the growth zone of the lower leg just below the patella, is subject to excessive strain. The disease is harmless and usually disappears once the sufferer has finished growing.
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Symptoms of Osgood Schlatter disease
Most people with Osgood Schlatter disease tend to react when they are playing sport. They typically feel pain when jumping or running. Osgood Schlatter disease can also affect everyday activities, such as going up steps. Some people also react by touching their knee. The symptoms often appear gradually and get worse the longer the damage goes untreated.
A typical symptom is swelling of the bump just below the kneecap, known as the tuberosity of the tibia, in combination with pain at the front of the knee, particularly on the tuberosity. Increased pain when taking part in some form of activity or sport may also be an indication of Osgood Schlatter disease. The condition usually appears in one knee, but in about 30% of cases it presents in both knee joints.
If you recognize any of these symptoms you are advised to consult a doctor or physiotherapist who can make a diagnosis and recommend treatment. A standard X-ray is often taken to secure a diagnosis and exclude other causes. This is particularly the case if the symptoms are pronounced. An MRI scan rarely adds anything for someone with Osgood Schlatter disease and is therefore rarely carried out.
How can you counteract Osgood Schlatter disease?
It is difficult to prevent the disease itself because it is a growth problem, but you can reduce the symptoms.
The simplest way to reduce the symptoms of Osgood Schlatter disease is to adapt your activity and find training that does not cause pain. It is often a case of doing a different sport or reducing the number of sessions. However, the most important thing is to know that the condition is harmless and will go away once you have finished growing.
People with pronounced symptoms can help to alleviate the condition with a specific knee brace, known as an orthosis. If you don’t want to use a specially adapted knee brace, you can tape up the knee that is affected by Osgood Schlatter disease. This works in a similar way and helps to reduce the symptoms. However, you should consult a physiotherapist first to show you how to apply the tape correctly. This type of support often means that you can continue training despite the fact that you can still feel the symptoms.
In addition to a brace, there are also various exercises you can do that are specifically for Osgood Schlatter disease. Most of these involve stretching your muscles and building up your thigh muscles. You should mainly focus on the front of the thigh. You can also cool down the muscles after training for about 15 minutes to help counteract the pain. This normally has a beneficial effect. It is possible to use simple, non-prescription pain relievers, but this is not usually necessary.
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If nothing helps
Most people suffering from Osgood Schlatter disease do not need any treatment because the symptoms are usually so mild that they can live with them, and they also disappear once the affected person has finished growing. If you have done everything that the doctor and physiotherapist recommends and still feel pain, you may need an operation. In fact, it is possible that a piece of bone has formed in the growth zone and this needs to be surgically removed. So, if the problem does not go away in spite of adequate treatment, you should consult a doctor.
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