Osgood Schlatter is perhaps the third most misdiagnosed condition I see in my practice. Just because you are an active, young person with pain at the lower
portion of your knee does not mean you have Osgood Schlatter!! Sheesh!!! Osgood Schlatter is not hereditary, and can be seen in adults but mostly is in younger groups.
Have you noticed in most cases (in all cases I have seen in my practice), it is only on one side? So how does that work? Is only one side growing too fast? Is it only one side that is stressed? That’s your clue that this is all nonsense.
What is Osgood Schlatter?
Osgood Schlatter is the manifestation of imbalanced posture in an active young person typically presented in one leg bone close to the knee joint!!! It is typically referred to as a knee problem but the knee is a joint that consists of 3 bones. Osgood Schlatter is only at the Tibia ( the bigger of the two lower leg bones) where the tendon connecting the knee cap to the lower leg is pulled over time. It is not seen only in Baseball players but common in other active and young persons including swimmers and runners.
What Causes Osgood Schlatter?
When the quadriceps are too tight, the point of attachment below the knee cap becomes the source of pain and pulls on the bone. This creates a bump as a result of the persistent pull which causes soreness over the area. Is it the quadriceps that is, therefore, the cause of Osgood Schlatter? I hope you answered no! The real question should be why the quadriceps, especially only one, are pulling and is tighter; let’s explore this a little bit.
It is fair to say that MOST sports are one-sided so each side of the body behaves differently from each other. This creates an imbalance that over time, over strenuous activity and injuries, becomes more problematic. So to blame the quads is like you kicking the ground when you fall as a punishment!!!
Can Osgood Schlatter Go Away?
Since Osgood Schlatter was created as an uneven pull of the tendon attachment to the leg, it can certainly go away. Sometimes the pull creates a bump on the leg that can be surgically removed if it causes issues. The issues AFTER fixing the cause that I am referring to has to do with bumping the leg into things and hurting the bump. The bump is not present in all cases and as I stated, this diagnosis is liberally used so your so-called Osgood Schlatter may be a misdiagnosis! So can Osgood Schlatter go away and the answer is yes. It does not have to happen in young adults because the cause of it is not age-related but is worse in young active people because of the developmental stages they are in.
What is the Treatment for Osgood Schlatter?
The conventional treatment for Osgood Schlatter is pain medication, bracing the area, ice and resting to get it to calm down! That is NOT going to make the problem go away by any means!! You do not need to quit the activity that may have led to this problem either. The postural imbalance that led to Osgood Schlatter is not going to go away by itself if you quit the sport you love or keep taking meds and resting. Medicines are not intended to cure the problem but to ease the pain, so remember that always.
The natural treatment for Osgood Schlatter is not as difficult as you may imagine and at my office, it consists of the following:
Acute and Sub-Acute Osgood Schlatter:
- Cold Laser Therapy at the onset of pain is helpful and can decrease inflammation.
- Ice for immediate pain relief is helpful but I like to follow it with contrast therapy after a day. We were taught that ice was good for pain and yes it is great for pain but the pain is due to the inflammatory chemicals that exist and are present at the site of pain. The inflammation, in fact, encourages blood flow to the area which is absolutely needed for healing. The whole ice therapy use is now on the controversial side so its use depends on the situation.
- Increase intake of Vitamin C, protein, magnesium and Vitamin D is recommended as they are needed for the tissue to heal.
I am a big fan of taping for support. That does NOT make the problem go away but to support the knee structure (not the site of pull) becomes comforting when acute or subacute.
Once the pain has subsided, I immediately start assessing the patient to locate the postural imbalance. This blog is not about Postural Neurology nor Functional Movement but both of those are absolutely necessary to remove the cause of Osgood Schlatter. As stated before Osgood Schlatter is the end result of a pull at the attachment of a tendon. What do you think happens to the way you walk, play sports, rest, or even sleep when this imbalance exists? Let’s explore this below since the solution to Chronic Osgood Schlatter is what we need to look into.
Chronic Osgood Schlatter:
Chronic Osgood Schlatter only happens when the pain was managed and the condition was treated as if it went away! Let’s think for a moment. If you don’t use your leg muscles, they get weak but once you start working them out, they get stronger again. There is a map of your body parts (when it comes to movement and sensation) that exists in the brain and is referred to as Homunculus. This matter is directly impacted by the use of your body parts. Let’s digress for a moment!! Have you ever heard of Phantom Pain? That is when let’s say, the arm has been cut off, but the person still feels pain and sensation in the missing arm!! Strange right? Well, the reason is that the map of the missing arm still exists in the homunculus!
When it comes to overusing, under using and misusing the body parts- all of which lead to postural decline- the homunculus is impacted. We also know that the brain is the master coordinator- the orchestra leader so to speak. If the map that gives the master coordinator information so it can decide what to do next, is compromised, how can we expect proper movement?
Postural Neurology deals with determining what portion of the brain, with regards to posture, is weak regardless of what caused the weakness. When activated positively and properly, the weak and imbalanced portion will regain its integrity. This is referred to as Positive Neuroplasticity.
What comes next is extremely important in ALL postural decline cases including Osgood Schlatter. Developmental Kinesiology is addressing the Functional Movement. Not every movement is proper and functionally correct. Let me give you a simple example: If your goal is to feed yourself, you can either bring the spoon to your mouth or move your mouth toward the spoon. The question is, what happens if you continuously bring your mouth to the spoon every time you want to eat or drink? What if you do that often? How about you add a bit of force behind moving the mouth to the spoon? What if you are forcefully and expediently moving your mouth toward the spoon but all of a sudden stop midway? Do you get the point?!! Yes, movement is happening BUT it is not the proper movement. Over time, if these wrong patterns of movement becomes the norm, the BIOLOGICAL movement becomes Pathological movement, leading to pathology.
In this video, you will see a combination of exercises that lead to positive neuroplasticity in postural neurology as well as an offshoot of certain Developmental Kinesiology moves.
One thing we know for sure is that every single one of us, as babies went through the same milestones of movements (with the exception of a few genetic conditions). This means that we are born with the ‘app’ for movement that remains the same regardless of who we are talking about. This is similar to your smart phone which comes with a few inherit apps that you cannot delete. You can add more apps to them but can’t ever delete them!! So why reinvent the wheels when it comes to movement? Why not re-walk the same patterns of movements? That does not mean it is going to take about 16 months before your postural decline is fixed. Changes in you are better in some parts and not so great in others. Here is a great example of some of the things we do at the clinic that follow proper patterns of movement.
Bottom line is that postural decline doesn’t happen over night and won’t go away over night. Effective exercises are not done at a gym necessarily and frankly I see people causing more damage than good going to the gym adding load to structures that are not balanced! (… and that is another blog!!).
Check out for more videos on my YouTube channel and start doing what you see there. Meanwhile, contact me via email or call if you have any questions.
This blog has answered some of the common questions people have about Osgood Schlatter with a few listed below:
Can Osgood Schlatter be prevented?
Is Osgood Schlatter hereditary?
Can Osgood Schlatter be cured?
Can Osgood Schlatter kill you?
Can Osgood Schlatter happen in adults?