Nonsurgical Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease typically goes away on its own after a child is finished growing and the growth plate of the tibia has closed. Until that time, pediatric orthopedists at NYU Langone recommend the following nonsurgical treatments to reduce the pain and swelling associated with the condition.

Rest the Knee

Resting the affected knee is the first recommended treatment for children and teens with Osgood-Schlatter disease. Keeping activity to a minimum allows symptoms to resolve more quickly.

Rest typically requires limiting your child’s participation in sports or exercise until he or she no longer experiences discomfort or pain. Most children notice that symptoms diminish after reducing the duration, frequency, and intensity of their activities, especially sports that require running and jumping.

Sometimes rest is required for several months. A pediatric orthopedist at NYU Langone can advise you, your child, and your child’s coaches if a complete break from sports is needed. Your child’s doctor can also advise you on how to ease your child back into physical activity as he or she recovers.

Many times the pain recurs, often because active children have difficulty resting for the length of time needed for healing.

Ice the Knee

Applying an ice pack to the affected knee can reduce inflammation and ease pain. Your child’s doctor may recommend applying ice to the knee three times a day for 15 minutes at a time to reduce swelling. Icing the area after activities can also help relieve swelling and inflammation, as well as current pain. However, icing usually has little impact on the long-term resolution.

Pain Relief Medication

Osgood-Schlatter disease causes pain at the tibial tubercle. Inflammation in the soft tissue surrounding the tibial tubercle can add to this discomfort. Doctors may recommend a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, to relieve inflammation and reduce pain. Many NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and naproxen, are available without a prescription.

Wear Good Shoes

Impact on the knee from activities such as jumping can aggravate Osgood-Schlatter disease. Well-fitting, properly cushioned shoes that absorb impact may be of some help in preventing a return of the condition. Exercising on softer surfaces may also help.

Resources for Osgood-Schlatter Disease in Children
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