What is Osgood Schlatters Disease?
As a dancer goes through any period of growth, some pain and stiffness may be noticeable. Unfortunately as we grow, all the action takes place at the growth plates in our bones, and it does take some time for the muscles, ligaments and nerves to adjust to their new positions. This article explains the reason for growth pains focusing on the area of the knees and offers advice to those dancers who may be experiencing pain in this area.
The way some muscles attaches into the growth plates of your bones can cause problems if you are doing a lot of sport involving jumping and running, which is why a lot of girls and boys who dance or do athletics get issue with their knees. This happens especially around periods of growth when the growth plates are more active.
If you have pain below the knee cap, and you think it may be the growth plates, it may be a syndrome called Osgood Schlatters Disease. This is not really a ‘disease’ but is just named after the guy who discovered it.
The tendon that attaches the patella (knee cap) to the tibia (shin bone) is called the patella tendon. The tendon attaches to your tibia right on the growth plate. The muscles of the front of the thigh (quadriceps) attach into the top of the patella which acts as a pulley to allow you to straighten your leg without the muscle rubbing over the edges of the bone. If you bend and straighten the knee many times, the constant pulling on the growth plate can aggravate it and you can get quite a bit of pain.
Things you can do to reduce the amount of pain and pulling include…
Gentle stretching of the Quadriceps
Strengthening your buttock muscles to reduce the load on the Quads
Taping techniques to redistribute the load going through the tendon
Strengthening other muscles around the hips so not as much strain goes through your knees.
Icing the tendon after exercise, on a gentle stretch, to reduce the inflammation.
If you are having more random pains, more at night, and the pain is above the knee joint, it may be purely action at the growth plate of your femur (long thigh bone). Make sure that when it has been a little sore you do not do too much jumping or strong stretching. Keep the muscles around the area relaxed with gentle stretching, and heat may help relieve the pain by bringing more blood to the area.
Use Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation to settle any sudden increases in pain.