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Osgood Schlatter Disease treated with Physical Therapy

Osgood Schlatter disease is an inflammation of the bone, cartilage and/or tendon at the top of the shinbone (tibia), where the tendon from the kneecap (patella) attaches.
If your child has swelling, tenderness and aching pain beneath his or her knee joint, it may be Osgood-Schlatter disease. The pain gets worse when your child is active and better when he or she rests. It’s a common and temporary condition.

OSD will usually affect active boys and girls around the beginning of their growth spurts. OSD is more common among boys, but a change has been noticed since girls have been participating in sports year round. The pain comes from repeated pulling of the kneecap (patellar) tendon. Repetitive and overuse injuries may make the tendon inflamed where it connects to the shinbone (tibia). The fast growing bones are susceptible where the tendon pulls on it. The tendon may get inflamed or even tear away.

Physical Therapy Findings in Patients’ with OS

Patients who seem to have OS will often times display significant tightness at the quadriceps, hamstring, iliotibial band and calf muscles. Tightness in these areas can result in added stresses or pull to the tibial tubercle with participation in exercise. Weakness of the quadriceps muscle and pain with active knee extension and resisted knee flexion are common findings in patients.

When our therapists are examining a child’s gait, patients with OS will often minimize knee flexion and maintain full knee extension throughout gait to minimize quadriceps activity and stress to the tibial tubercle region. Several techniques may be recommended by our physical therapists to alleviate discomfort and avoid recurrence of the disease. Treatment recommendations are dependent upon the person and severity of the condition.

Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease

Specific treatment for Osgood-Schlatter disease will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • the extent of the condition
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition

Physical Therapy evaluation

A thorough assessment of range of motion, posture, pain, strength, sensation, reflexes, and functional deficits will be discussed and evaluated. A plan of care will be explained for every child’s injury and unique symptoms. Both parent and child will be educated on how to take care of the condition during the healing process and given the tools to become active in their sport again.

  • A patellar strap may be recommended during sports activity.
  • Postural/ Functional training
  • Range of Motion exercises (ROM)
  • Strengthening, stretching and stabilization
  • Soft tissue massage and mobilization
  • Resting is recommended when pain arises.
  • Cryotherapy- Cold therapy
  • Stretching of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles helps prevent the development of OSD.
  • Short-term rest and knee immobilization may be required.
  • Knee braces are used for long-term immobilization (6 wk) in severe cases

Perhaps the most important part of rehabilitation is education of the adolescent and his parents, with a reassurance that his condition is temporary and related to the time in his growth. Rarely is surgery required for this condition.

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