How to treat osgood schlatter disease

Overview of Osgood Schlatter Disease

Osgood Schlatter disease, commonly known as OSD, is an overuse injury that occurs when the quadriceps tendon (the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone) pulls on the tibial tubercle, or the part of the shinbone located below the knee. It is most common in children aged from 10 to 15, and is typically seen in active individuals who engage in sports and activities that put repetitive stress on the knee.

In this article, we will discuss the overview of Osgood Schlatter disease, its causes, symptoms, and treatments:

What is Osgood Schlatter Disease?

Osgood Schlatter Disease (OSD) is a common condition that affects the patellar tendon, the ligament that connects to the tibial tuberosity at the top of the shinbone. It is generally seen in active adolescents during their growth spurt and typically resolves on its own with conservative measures.

OSD is characterized by inflammation, pain, swelling and tenderness around one or both knees. It can cause a painful lump beneath the knee which may be tender when pressure is applied. The exact cause of OSD remains unknown but it is believed to be linked to repetitive stress on immature bones and joints.

Individuals who perform high-impact activities such as running, jumping and soccer are more likely to develop OSD due to increased stress on their growing bones and joints. Overuse of certain muscles can predispose an athlete to developing OSD whereas proper stretching and strengthening can reduce their risk of developing this condition. Poor technique in sports may also contribute to overuse; thus coaches must ensure their athletes are properly trained in proper technique for performance and injury prevention.

Common Symptoms

Osgood Schlatter Disease is a very common cause of knee pain in growing adolescents, especially during periods of growth spurts. It is characterized by tenderness and pain at the lower front of the thigh where the tendon from the kneecap (patellar tendon) attaches to the shinbone (tibia).

Common symptoms include:

  • Soreness or pain below the kneecap.
  • Swelling above and around the bony part of growth plate.
  • Increased discomfort when the knee is bent.
  • Pain may also be felt while running, jumping or climbing stairs.
  • In some cases, a visible bulge may be seen on either side of your kneecap.

Osgood Schlatter Disease is more prevalent in boys than girls, due to their greater rate of growth during adolescence.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Osgood Schlatter disease is a condition that affects the growth plate of the knee and causes pain in the area between the knee and shin. It is most often seen in active adolescents and is particularly common in those who have recently started a new activity or increased their activity level.

Proper diagnosis is essential in order to begin treatment in a timely manner. Let’s take a look at the diagnosis and treatment of Osgood Schlatter disease.


Diagnosis of Osgood-Schlatter disease is based on the location and the shape of the painful lump, as well as patient history and physical examination results. X-rays can often confirm the diagnosis by showing changes to the infrapatellar tendon, such as fragmentation or a bump. Occasionally, a bone scan or even an MRI may also be ordered in order to rule out other possible causes of bone pain in young athletes.

In some cases, medical professionals might also add diagnostic tests performed under image guidance such as ultrasound to confirm Osgood-Schlatter disease in active teens who don’t respond well to treatments already prescribed. The doctor can also directly observe and palpate key anatomical points during a physical exam in order to pinpoint areas on which they should conduct tests. Based on these findings, they might be able to confirm the presence of Osgood-Schlatter disease before starting a treatment plan that includes:

  • Cognitive therapies
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy exercises

Treatment Options

Osgood Schlatter disease is a self-limited condition and most cases resolve with growth. Treatment focuses on reducing pain and knee flexion contractures to allow normal growth of the tibia. Rest from painful activities is important to ensure proper healing. If completely stopped, pain will often resolve within a few weeks but may return if strong calf muscles are neglected.

Strengthening exercises focusing on the quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles should also be incorporated into treatment plans for Osgood Schlatter disease as this will help reduce its symptoms and prevent further injury. Cold therapy can be used in the acute phases of Osgood Schlatter disease to help reduce swelling, inflammation and relieve pain.

Orthopedic intervention may be needed depending on the severity of symptoms and duration of presentation. A brace may be used to limit flexion of the knee or to prevent over stressing during activity, although braces have not been proven effective in treating Osgood Schlatters Disease directly. Surgery is usually only necessary if there are complicating factors such as a knot that prevents complete range of motion or if major tearing or deviations occur around the patellar tendon region – this is very rare.

Rest and Activity Modification

It is important for individuals with Osgood Schlatter disease to rest the affected area and avoid activities that cause pain. Exercise should be limited to activities that don’t aggravate the symptoms such as swimming, biking and gentle stretching.

It may be necessary to wear a protective brace or taping on the affected knee to provide support and cushioning while participating in sports or activities.

  • Ice may be applied to reduce pain and swelling after activity or when needed.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) can also reduce inflammation, however should be taken only occasionally on an as-needed basis since they can prevent healing and worsen stomach problems when used excessively.

A physical therapist may also provide guidance for modifications including stretches, exercises, taping or bracing suggestions, and guidance for conducting activities without worsening symptoms. Talk with your doctor about whether physical therapy is appropriate for you.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a vital component of treating Osgood Schlatter disease. Exercises that strengthen the muscles and flexibility of the quadriceps are prescribed to alleviate the pain and improve knee stability. These exercises should be performed for 10 repetitions on each side two or three times a day.

The physical therapist may also recommend specific stretching exercises for the hamstrings and quadriceps, as well as calf stretches to reduce stress on the ligaments connecting to the knee. In addition, external bracing (bracing worn externally outside clothing) may be recommended to prevent overstretching, provide support and protection, reduce pain and help maintain range of motion while participating in physical activities. Physical therapy can also include ice/cold packs or ultrasound treatments applied to the affected area.


Medication is often prescribed for pain relief associated with Osgood-Schlatter Disease. Over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can be used to reduce any swelling and pain associated with this condition. Consider consulting your doctor or pharmacist for advice on proper dose and use of medications.

Additionally, they may also recommend:

  • a topical ointment or cream
  • heated or cold packs
  • compression supports

In extreme cases, a steroid injection may be considered; however, this should be avoided if possible as it can lead to further weakening of the tendon attachments and increased risk of fractures.


Surgery is rarely used to treat Osgood Schlatter disease and is only considered when other treatments have failed. If surgery becomes necessary, the surgeon will typically make an incision into the bump that is causing pain or discomfort. The tissue in this area may be removed and a reinforcement stitch may be used to prevent the area from becoming irritated in the future. Surgery can be done using minimally-invasive techniques or open-incision surgery, depending on each individual case.

Recovery from surgery for Osgood Schlatter disease typically takes several weeks and involves physical therapy exercises to properly rehabilitate the knee joint. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions on how much stress you should place on your knee as you heal, as this can help ensure proper long-term recovery and decrease your risk of relapse.


Osgood Schlatter disease, a condition that affects the knee, is common among young athletes, especially those involved in sports that involve running and jumping. The best way to prevent Osgood Schlatter disease is to ensure adequate stretching and strengthening of the knee muscles. Additionally, proper shoes and supportive taping can also play a role in preventing Osgood Schlatter disease.

In this section we will discuss the best ways to prevent Osgood Schlatter disease:

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

To help reduce pain and symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine recommends stretching and strengthening exercises that target the leg, thigh and hip areas. Stretching should focus on both the hamstrings (back of the thigh) and quadriceps (front of the thigh). Stretching can also help reduce tightness in the affected area. Every exercise session should always end with a proper cool down.

Strengthening exercises should be specific to areas near the knee joint, such as hips, lower abdominals or quadraceps above or below the knee joint area. These strengthening exercises will help support the knee joint and increase stability during certain activities that can trigger Osgood-Schlatter disease symptoms.

It’s important to remember that too much activity can sometimes make pain worse; taking breaks from activity when needed is essential to managing symptoms and treating Osgood-Schlatter disease. In some cases, physical therapy may become necessary to provide further guidance in properly performing various stretching and strengthening exercises designed to relieve Osgood-Schlatter disease symptoms.

Wearing Proper Shoes

When it comes to osgood schlatter disease, wearing the right shoes can make a big difference. This is especially true when participating in running, jumping, or other sports activities that put strain on your legs. Shoes should be fitted properly and should provide adequate cushioning and support for your feet.

It’s best to wear athletic shoes with shock absorbent material to reduce impact on joints and ligaments, and select shoes with good arch supports that will help keep your feet in alignment. Running or jumping in ill-fitting shoes can aggravate the symptoms of osgood schlatter disease. Wearing the right footgear is one way to minimize stress on the knee joint while playing sports or running around.

Avoiding High-Impact Activities

High-impact activities that involve running, jumping, or pivoting can be some of the most aggravating culprits of Osgood Schlatter disease. To prevent flare-ups and lessen symptoms, it’s best to avoid high impact activities whenever possible.

Low impact exercises such as swimming, biking and stretching can aid in strengthening supporting muscles without exacerbating the disorder. Strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings will help support the femur and reduce stress off of the patellar tendon.

Additionally, activities such as yoga can provide a great form of exercise while also including adequate stretches to loosen up any tight muscle areas or ligaments in or around the knee. This can improve flexibility while still increasing endurance!

Finally, making sure you’re wearing active footwear with just enough cushioning for your feet is an effective way to reduce pressure on muscles around your knee joint. Consider shoes with a padded sole to absorb high-impact motions since those can trigger Osgood-Schlatter flare-ups.

When to See a Doctor

Osgood Schlatter Disease is a common injury found in physically active children, typically between the ages of 8 and 15. It usually occurs as a result of overuse of the knee, causing pain and swelling in the lower tibial tubercle.

Although self-care methods may help relieve the pain, it is highly recommended to seek medical advice if symptoms persist or worsen. A doctor can offer additional advice and create a treatment plan that will help ease the patient’s symptoms.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If your child experiences intense pain that is associated with Osgood Schlatter disease, it’s important to reach out to a doctor. This is especially true when the pain has lasted for an extended period of time or if the swelling or deformity appears to be getting worse over time. Your doctor can examine your child and determine the best plan of action for treating the condition.

Seek medical attention right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Visible swelling that persists over time
  • A visible bump at the bottom of your knee
  • A sudden increase in limping or difficulty putting weight on the affected leg
  • Intense, sharp pain in one single location around your knee joint
  • Pain that radiates down from knee into calf and foot regions

These symptoms could indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as a fracture or tendon injury, which may require immediate medical attention. If left unchecked and untreated, you risk further damage and chronic pain from these underlying conditions. Ultimately, it’s best to contact a doctor sooner than later for potential problems related to Osgood Schlatters Disease.

What to Expect at the Doctor’s Office

When visiting your doctor with symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease, be sure to mention all the activities you participate in and any previous injuries to the same knee. Your doctor may ask questions about when the pain became noticeable, how severe it is, and how it affects your daily routine.

During the physical examination, your doctor will test your range of motion and examine your knee for swelling and redness around the kneecap. The doctor might also feel around to see if there are any knots or lumps in the area just below the kneecap. With young children who are too small for an X-ray, this type of physical examination can help diagnose Osgood-Schlatter disease.

An X-ray may also be ordered in order to rule out other possibilities such as a fracture or a bone tumor. In some cases, an MRI or ultrasound can also help detect soft-tissue damage due to Osgood-Schlatter disease or a tear in a tendon. Sometimes other tests such as bloodwork and urine tests may be required depending on what underlying conditions or diseases need ruled out. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment will be discussed depending on your individual case and goals for recovery.