Children are most likely to develop Osgood-Schlatter disease between the ages of 9 and 15. Osgood-Schlatter disease is the result of the patellar tendon or the tendon that is over the kneecap pulling on the growth plate just below the knee and on the tibia or shin-bone. The area becomes swollen, tender and painful with activities. Stretching, low-impact exercises and other precautions may be taken to treat Osgood-Schlatter disease.
Tight thigh or quadriceps muscles can cause more tension on the patellar tendon and therefore further pull and irritate the area below the knee. The standing quadriceps stretch, standing or lying hamstring stretch and standing calf stretch may all help reduce the tension around your child’s knee joint. Your child should hold the stretches for 20 to 30 seconds and perform daily, especially before and after physical activities.
Strengthening exercises may help decrease your child's symptoms associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease. While lying face-up, have your child perform straight leg raises by lifting one leg straight off the table. Then have your child flip onto his stomach and perform hip extensions by again lifting one leg straight off the table. Other strength exercises include bridges and side-lying hip abduction and adduction. Perform two to three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions with each leg daily or as tolerated.
Improving knee stabilization will help prevent unnecessary rotation of your child's knee, which can cause pain. Standing beside a chair or counter top for support, have your child perform single leg balance. To further challenge your child’s balance you may have your child close her eyes or stand on an uneven surface such as a pillow. You may also have her move her uninjured or non-weight bearing leg forward and back with a resistance band to further improve knee stabilization. Perform two to three sets lasting 30 to 60 seconds with each leg daily.
High-impact activities such as running and jumping might cause an increase in your child’s knee pain and should be avoided until pain subsides. Therefore, low-impact activities such as swimming, biking and walking may be more comfortable and allow your child to continue to exercise while his knee heals.
Ice and elevate your child’s leg -- especially after physical activities -- to help reduce the pain and swelling around his knee. Knee wraps may also help reduce pain and support your child’s knee during activities. If your child’s pain does not subsided in two to three days, consult a physician.