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Can Physical Therapy Work for Osgood-Schlatter Disease in Adults?

Written By Pro Physio on April 3, 2018

Does Physical Therapy Work for Osgood-Schlatter Disease in Adults?

Knee pain can be devastating. It not only keeps you from working out but also limits your flexibility and range of motion. Sometimes, the pain goes away within days. However, if you have an underlying condition, your knees may hurt for weeks or even months.

Osgood-Schlatter disease causes severe pain and inflammation at the front of the knees. Its symptoms can last for as long as two years, taking a toll on your body and limiting athletic performance.

Even though this disorder is more common in teens, it may affect people of all ages. Girls ages 10 to 13 and boys ages 12 to 14 have the highest risk. The same goes for adults engaged in high-impact sports, such as running, CrossFit, and football.

What Is Osgood-Schlatter Disease?

This inflammatory disease causes pain and swelling in one or both knees. Those with Osgood-Schlatter disease may notice a painful lump below the kneecap, swelling at the tibial tubercle, and tenderness. The motion of the knee is rarely affected, but the pain may be quite severe, causing a limp to guard the affected knee.What is Osgood Schlatter Disease

The onset of Osgood-Schlatter disease is gradual. Its first symptoms include tenderness, inflammation and knee pain after exercise.

In general, this condition often goes away on its own. However, in severe cases, it may cause chronic, ongoing pain and even calcification of the affected area. Osgood-Schlatter treatment involves rest, ice therapy, physical therapy, and medications. Only very rarely are more invasive medical procedures necessary. Rehabilitation exercises and soft tissue therapies may speed up healing and relieve pain.

Causes and Symptoms

During adolescence, certain tendons and muscles grow quickly. Some may develop faster than others. Thus, these structures are more vulnerable to the stress caused by exercise.

Research suggests that Osgood-Schlatter disease is the cumulative effect of repeated trauma. This explains why it's more common in teens and adults who play sports.

About four percent of people develop this condition at some point in their lives. Teenagers engaged in jumping sports, running, and sprinting are the most affected. Osgood-Schlatter disease in adults may cause:

  • Pain that gets worse with exercise
  • Tenderness under the knee
  • Swelling in the knee area
  • Leg pain
  • Tightness and loss of strength in the quadriceps
  • Limited range of motion

Stretching the quadriceps and hamstrings increases muscle flexibility, which may help prevent this condition. If you play sports, a physical therapist can help you lengthen your tissues, gain flexibility, balance muscle strength and prevent injury.

Osgood-Schlatter Treatment Options

Treatment options for Osgood-Schlatter disease in adults depend on the severity of symptoms. NSAIDs and anti-inflammatory drugs may help but have potential side effects. Physical Therapy (Physiotherapy), on the other hand, is safe and can be used on people of all ages. When combined with proper rest and workout periodization design, its benefits are even greater.

Physical therapy has been evidenced in recent research to be effective in the treatment of knee injuries, such as Osgood-Schlatter disease. Most patients experience relief after six to 20 sessions. After assessing your condition, the therapist may recommend:

  • Cryotherapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • TENS or EMS
  • Soft tissue manipulation
  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM)
  • Taping techniques
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Water exercises
  • Dry needling
  • Soft tissue massage

A qualified physiotherapist (physical therapist) will teach you preventive measures and exercises that help lower injury risk. Advice on activity modification may also be provided.

Osgood-Schlatter physio treatment aims to reduce pain and inflammation while strengthening the muscles around the knees. Physical therapists may also recommend sports massage for the quadriceps muscle, which helps ease tension and pain. Patients may be required to wear compression garments during athletic activities, such as knee wraps, to support the affected area and relieve swelling.

Proper assessment leads to appropriate diagnosis and physical therapy treatment of Osgood-Schlatter disease in both children and adults. This is available at Pro Physio. Our Bozeman and Belgrade, Montana physical therapists have the tools and knowledge to help you resolve your knee pain.

Posted In: Knee Physical Therapy

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