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Osgood Schaletter's Disease (OSD)

What Is Osgood-Schlatter Disease?

In 1903, Robert Osgood (1873-1956), a US orthopedic surgeon, and Carl Schlatter (1864-1934), a Swiss surgeon, concurrently described the disease that now bears their names.

Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is swelling and irritation of the growth plate at the top of the shinbone. A growth plate is a layer of cartilage near the end of a bone where most of the bone’s growth happens. It is weaker and more at risk for injury than the rest of the bone. Common in growing adolescents.

OSD goes away when a person stops growing and usually doesn’t cause lasting problems.

What are the causes?

Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused by repetitive movements such as running, jumping and sprinting. Pain associated with sudden spurts of growth in children and teenagers is often chalked up to ‘growing pains’.

During the activities, your child’s thigh muscles (quadriceps) pull on the tendon that connects the kneecap to the growth plate at the top part of the shinbone.

This repeated stress can cause the tendon to pull on the growth plate where the tendon inserts into the shinbone, resulting in the pain and swelling associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease. Some children’s bodies try to close that gap with new bone growth, which can result in a bony lump at that spot.

What are the symptoms of OSD?
  • Knee pain and swelling just below the kneecap 
  • Pain usually worsens during certain activities, such as running, kneeling and jumping, 
  • Increased warmth around the area of the tibial tubercle
  • Impaired movement of the knee
  • Lumping (usually tender to the touch) around the tibial tubercle

The condition usually occurs in just one knee, but it can affect both knees

Can OSD affect adults?

Unfortunately, some people continue to have pain from Osgood-Schlatter disease even after they are fully grown. This is usually caused by bone fragments left from when your bone was replacing cartilage in your knee. These fragments can be left in your patellar tendon from unresolved Osgood-Schlatters and irritate your knee. Most adults experience similar Osgood-Schlatters symptoms in comparison to kids and adolescents with the disease.

What can I do to ease off the pain?

Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms, such as knee pain and swelling. Treatment typically involves:

  • icing the affected area two to four times a day, or after doing physical activity
  • taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • resting the knee or reducing physical activity
  • wrapping the knee or wearing a knee brace
  • stretching
  • physical therapy
What can I expect from a physiotherapist?

Based on the evaluation, the physical therapist can design a targeted exercise program to effectively treat Osgood-Schlatter disease, which can help to reduce the tension where your patella attaches to your shin, and also help to stabilize your knee joint. This may involve:

  • Stretching exercises
  • Strengthening exercise
  • Balance and coordination exercises
  • Pain control
  • Kinesiology tape may also help by supporting the knee

Sometimes Osgood-Schlatter disease is confused with patellar tendonitis, especially among adults.