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My daughter has been diagnosed with “Osgood Schlatters Disease.” The Doctor didn’t really explain what it was, and said to just stop dancing and she would grow out of it. She loves ballet and does not want to stop but it really hurts her to dance. Is there anything else we can do?

Osgood Schlatters disease is not actually a disease, but a syndrome that was just named after the doctor who first described it, hence its rather scary name! It is very common in adolescent athletes, due to an unfortunate anatomical situation. In the knee, there is a tendon (the patella tendon), that connects the kneecap (patella) onto the shin bone (tibia). The knee cap is very important in acting as a pulley, to transfer force through the knee without the muscles and tendons rubbing over the joint. Unfortunately, where the tendon attaches onto the tibia is exactly where the growth plate is situated in young adults. During periods of growth, there is a lot of cell turnover happening in this area, and if the tendon is repeatedly pulled (as in running and jumping) an area of inflammation may occur around the growth plate. In severe cases, a small piece of bone may actually pull up, away from the shin bone, and a visible lump will be seen at the top of the shin.

While excessive jumping will aggravate the condition, your daughter should not have to stop ballet completely. She should abstain from jumping when the knees are tender, and must continually focus on correct placement of the feet and hips. She should sonsult a sports physical therapist who is accustomed to dealing with youths as there are also many things that she can do to decrease the symptoms to allow her to continue dancing, including;
• Gentle stretching of the Quadriceps.
• Strengthening the buttock muscles and other muscles around the hips to reduce the
load on the knees.
• Taping techniques to redistribute the load going through the tendon.
• Icing the tendon after exercise, on a gentle stretch, to reduce the amount of
inflammation.

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