Osgood-Schlatter disease (or OSD) refers to inflammation of the ligament just below the kneecap and is most common in children and adolescents who are very active and/or undergoing growth spurts.
A common sign of OSD are painful lumps or bumps that develop at the top of the shin bone (tibia) and the associated pain can be debilitating – stopping young athletes from enjoying sport and activity.
Typically thought to be a self-resolving (goes away on its own) condition, a recent paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine identified 60% of those effected by OSD still experiencing symptoms at an average of 4 years after diagnosis.
Vad, CG; Rathleff, MS; Jensen, HP; Holden S. Osgood Schlatter is associated with significant impairments in knee function and quality of life 4 years after diagnosis: a retrospective study. Presented at the Scandinavian Sports Medicine Conference 2019, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Whilst this is obviously not ideal, the authors also provided a fantastic structured program to help get symptoms under control and help young athletes gradually return to sport. The approach is called an ‘activity ladder’ and is designed to give the athlete a plan to help settle their symptoms (in Block 1), followed by progressively building strength and capacity in the knees (Block 2).
Throughout the program, the athlete is taught to work into small amounts of discomfort using a 0-10 scale (bottom of the link) whilst not pushing things so far that they become more aggravated. It also provides a visual pathway from where the athlete sees themselves (often feeling helpless) back to where they would like to be (fully engaged in sport and activity), which can be a powerful source of hope and motivation.
Despite the obvious focus on exercise rehabilitation with this approach, we can’t emphasise enough how mentally challenging OSD can be for young people who draw enjoyment from being active with their friends. Checking in with your child to see how they are faring in this respect is as important as any rehabilitation program, whilst findings new ways that they can still be involved with their social circle and team is highly recommended.
If you or your child is experiencing ongoing knee pain, feel free to contact us to learn more about how to form a plan which is in line with modern research and designed to get you back to doing what you love efficiently.