If your adolescent is active and develops knee pain during a growth spurt, there’s a good chance they have Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD). Though the pain of OSD can keep them out of action for a time, it rarely causes long-lasting problems.
Tony Zemlinsky, DC, and the team of sports injury specialists at Active Rehab Clinics have worked with many adolescents struggling with the pain of OSD. With holistic treatment tailored for their body and sport, we help young athletes stay healthy and pain free while their bones mature.
OSD occurs during adolescent growth spurts. For boys, the problem usually appears between the ages of 10-15, while girls go through their growth spurt from 8-13 years.
The problem occurs at the top of the tibia (shinbone), but it’s caused by movement in the quadriceps muscle in the thigh. Here’s how that happens.
Just below the kneecap, at the top of the shinbone and next to the growth plate on the end of the bone, there’s a slight bump called the tibial tubercle.
A tendon extends from the quadriceps muscle and connects to the kneecap. Some of the tendon fibers continue over the kneecap and help form another tendon that attaches the kneecap to the tibial tubercle.
When adolescents are involved in sports activities that repeatedly contract the quadriceps, such as running and jumping, the movement pulls on the tibial tubercle.
During growth spurts, the growth plate is highly susceptible to the stress of this repetitive movement. As a result, the growth plate and the tibial tubercle become irritated, inflamed, and painful. That’s when your adolescent has OSD.
The primary symptom is pain just below the knee and swelling at the tibial tubercle. Your child’s pain may feel like a dull ache that develops gradually. The pain gets worse when they’re active and usually improves after a few hours of rest.
The small bump that makes up the tibial tubercle can become enlarged and create a noticeable lump below the knee. This area is often tender when touched. Your child may develop OSD in one or both legs.
You and your adolescent will be glad to know that OSD disappears when the growth spurt is over. On the other hand, the problem can persist on and off for up to two years. With our comprehensive care, your child doesn’t need to stay on the sidelines while they wait for their shinbone to mature.
During painful flare-ups, adolescents may need to rest or modify their activities. The extent of their pain and mobility should guide decisions about their ability to stay in the game or other activities.
We alleviate pain and inflammation with ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. When your adolescent is active, it may help to wear knee padding to protect from potential trauma that further irritates the problem.
When the pain subsides, we start a strength and conditioning program and stretching exercises that target the front and back thigh muscles. We can often prevent future flares by creating customized treatment plans that draw from physical therapy, chiropractic care, and aquatic therapy.
If your adolescent develops knee pain, schedule a consultation by calling one of our Active Rehab Clinics in Park Ridge or Chicago, Illinois, or using the convenient online booking feature.