Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is a musculoskeletal disease that is most common in young athletes who are 8 to 15 years of age. Pain, together with possible swelling on the anterior side of the knee are the classic presentations of this disease.
During this teenage period, it is where the majority of height growth happens. This growth occurs at the area of the bone which is called the growth plate. In a developing adolescent, the growth plate is made of cartilage instead of bone, which is not a very strong structure. Interestingly, our quadriceps muscle, which is crucial for sprinting and jumping, is attached to this growth plate. Therefore, when adolescents are engaging in sports such as football, soccer, basketball, and volleyball that require repetitive knee extensions, the quadriceps muscles are constantly pulling on the growth plate, causing irritation and inflammation to that area of the knee.
Currently, activity modifications, pain management, and stretching are some of the treatment options for OSD. Since OSD is an overuse injury, appropriate rest of the involved structure is usually recommended; however, it is important to note that the athletes should still participate in regular cardiovascular training, and resistance training for other parts of the body.
Sport therapists will use ice and other therapeutic modalities to decrease pain and swelling. Stretching exercises to the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius are great ways of decreasing the tension being put on the growth plate too!
It is important for parents and coaches who supervise young athletes to be aware of the current topic and understand when to direct the athletes for proper treatment, as untreated OSD might lead to impairment in knee functions and quality of life later on.
Reference: Bezuglov, E. N., Tikhonova, А. А., Chubarovskiy, P. V., Repetyuk, А. D., Khaitin, V. Y., Lazarev, A. M., & Usmanova, E. M. (2020). Conservative treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease among young professional soccer players. International orthopaedics.