Osgood-schlatter disease in adults | Can Osgood come back in Adults?

Adult Osgood-Schlatter Disease is a real thing, most commonly coming back after being left untreated as a child. Luckily there is a lot you can do to relieve your knee pain

Can adults get osgood-schlatter disease?

Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD, sometimes just called Osgood Schlatters) is commonly considered a condition that affects adolescents and children during their growth spurts. However, in some cases, it can persist or come back in adulthood. Here’s what you need to know about Osgood-Schlatter disease in adults.

Based on the number of adults who have successfully used our adult-specific program to treat their Osgood Schlatters pain, it seems that OSD certainly exists amongst adults!

Osgood Schlatter Disease comes back

Most of the adults who contact us have suffered Osgood as a child or teenager, never properly treated their condition and have now had a come back in their knee pain and symptoms. Frequently they were told to stop playing sport and eventually “grew out” of the symptoms.

Unfortunately they also “grew out” of being active! As adults when they attempt to become more active again, hit the gym, or join a social sports team their OSD pain returned.

Many adults who had OSD as a child still have a pronounced tibial tuberosity bump under their knee which never went away. This bump can be painful or painless and is usually a calcification of the bone where the patella tendon connects to the shin. Fixing the raised bump can only really be done with surgery which can be incredibly time consuming, painful and even expensive! But luckily, the bump itself is not actually the direct cause of your Knee pain, we can easily treat and manage your Osgood pain even if the bump cannot be reduced.

Adult onset Osgood Schlatters is unlikely

It is generally it is unlikely that adults who never had Osgood as a child will develop Osgood Schlatters in adulthood for the first time. Remember, the key cause of OSD and it's defining characteristic is related to rapid bone growth. Not something seen in adults!

Most adult who develop Osgood-Schlatter like symptoms are actually suffering from a very similar condition commonly called patella tendonitis, or patella tendonopathy (although "-itis" is the more common term, it is actually not accurate as the tendon is not always inflamed with this condition).

Commonly referred to as “runners knee” or “jumpers knee”, these names give an indication for the cause of your knee pain!

This condition has very similar symptoms to OSD and frequently occurs because of sudden increase or change in physical activity, especially running, jumping and impact sports like basketball. Often we hear from people who have recently taken up a new sport, begun training for a marathon, or changed to a new much more active job when their pain begins.

Happily for you, patella tendonopathy respond very well to the exact same training as Osgood Schlatters, as a result we still suggest trying out our adult Osgood treatment program. Keep in mind we have a genuine no-questions-asked money back guarantee. We encourage you to give the program a go and see if some dedicated time working on mobility, flexibility and strength can resolve your knee pain for life!

Just be sure to check with your doctor,  physiotherapist (physical therapist), or osteopath to get a confirmed diagnosis of what is causing your knee pain. Knee conditions other than tendonopathy or returned Osgood pain might not respond as well to our program.

Getting an Osgood-Schlatter diagnosis

Aside from patella tendonopathy described above, there are several potential causes of knee pain which should be diagnosed by a medical professional.

It is critical that you receive a diagnosis and medical check from a physical therapist or sports doctor before commencing a treatment plan of any kind.

Seek medical advice if you have unexplained knee pain that doesn’t improve with rest. Your doctor will examine your knee and may order imaging tests to confirm OSD or a different diagnosis.

OSD can be confused with other knee conditions like chondromalacia patellae or arthritic. An accurate diagnosis is important.

What causes osgood-schlatter disease in adults

Osgood-Schlatter disease is caused by repetitive strain on the patellar tendon, which attaches the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). This tendon becomes irritated and inflamed.

In children and teens, this is often due to a growth spurt that causes tightness in the quadriceps muscles. The tendon cannot keep up with the rapid bone growth.

In adults, OSD can occur due to:

  • Sports that involve frequent jumping and landing (e.g. basketball, volleyball)
  • Jobs that require frequent kneeling (e.g. construction, carpeting, landscaping)
  • A prior injury that wasn’t properly rehabilitated
  • Having Osgood Schlatters as a child
  • Anatomical factors like flat feet, knock knees, or muscle imbalance/weakness

Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease in adults

The main symptom of OSD in adults is pain below the knee cap, where the patellar tendon attaches to the tibial tuberosity. This is often worse with activity.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Swelling and tenderness below the knee
  • A bony lump (ossicle) below the knee cap
  • Stiffness in the knee joint
  • Leg weakness
  • Difficulty kneeling or squatting

How to treat osgood-schlatter disease in adults

In these adult cases of Osgood leaving the knee untreated is a bad decision.

Given how easy it is to improve function and reduce pain with basic exercises, It is best to at least attempt to resolve the Osgood Schlatters with a non-invasive treatment plan like our online program before considering surgery. Many adults have responded very well to our program and were able to return to a much more active lifestyle than ever before.

Ice and rest for Osgood Schlatters

As with most overuse injuries, initial treatment involves rest, and avoiding aggravating activities. However rest is only a short term way to relieve your pain, and returning to activity progressively is essential for proper rehabilitation.

This is why we created our program, as a targeted way for people to return safely and smoothly to pain-free activity.

Recent research has shown that routinely icing injuries may not be beneficial. Icing can temporarily reduce pain and swelling, but it does not promote long-term healing.

In fact, icing may delay recovery by suppressing the inflammatory response needed for the body to heal itself. For this reason, we do not recommend icing during our OSD program unless you are experiencing severe pain.

Physical therapy for Osgood

Specific stretches and strengthening exercises can help improve flexibility and support the knee joint. Your physical therapist can design a tailored rehab program.

Osgood schlatter bracing and taping

Braces and taping techniques may be used to take pressure off the patellar tendon and improve tracking of the kneecap. We have written about bracing before. And you can find out taping for Osgood here.

Supports like this provide a great short term relief, but they do not substitute for a progressive rehabilitation plan and strengthening exercises.

Osgood Surgery to remove the tibial tuberosity bump

Surgery is typically a last resort for Osgood-Schlatter disease and has mixed results. Procedures may involve:

  • Removing bony ossicles
  • Shaving down the tibial tuberosity
  • Partially detaching and reattaching the patellar tendon

While surgery may remove irritated tissue, and reduce the size of your bump it does not address the root cause of OSD, which is most often muscular weakness and imbalance.

Surgical outcomes are unpredictable. Many patients still have anterior knee pain after surgery. There are also risks of infection, nerve damage, and delayed healing.

The recovery period post-surgery requires an extended break from sports and activity which can set you back even further. For these reasons, we recommend exhausting conservative treatment options before considering surgery.

The Core Advantage approach to treating adult Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Here at Core Advantage, we take a comprehensive approach to treating OSD in adults that focuses on:

  • Carefully progressing load and activity levels
  • Targeted strength training to activate the quadriceps and build up the legs
  • Improving movement patterns and muscle balance
  • Self-applied manual therapy techniques to improve flexibility

Our adult OSD online program includes everything you need to rehabilitate OSD and return to pain-free function.

Don’t let Osgood-Schlatter disease sideline you. With the right treatment approach, you can get back to an active lifestyle.

Our program is designed to be implemented over seven weeks, but typically we see the treatment for adults can take a little longer than for children, they need to add additional weeks at various points to achieve complete pain relief.

Learn more about the adult Osgood Schlatter program here →

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