Nobbly or knobbly knees are knees that stand out, much like a bony bump, and are often associated with knee pain. Knobbly knees are not a big problem on their own except for their appearance. The problem arises when nobbly knees are suddenly painful as a part of puberty, and this condition is known as Osgood-Schlatter's disease (OSD). Nobbly knees in the form of OSD are common in teenagers undergoing puberty and is uncommon over the age of 16 years. It is more common in boys, and especially teenagers who are play sports as their knee and quadriceps muscle is exerted and exposed to vigorous activity like jumping, kicking, running etc. Pain is felt just below the knee cap and can last from a few months up to several years. The bump may present in one or both knee, and although the pain subsides, the bump is permanent and may cause a limp during walking.
OSD, the painful nobbly knee condition, is named after Robert Bayley Osgood and Carl B. Schlatter who described the condition independently in 1903. While Osgood was an American orthpedic surgeon, Schlatter was a Swiss physician. It is more proper to call it a condition rather can a disease and so Osgood-Schlatter Condition is the correct term to use. It is due to osteochondrosis of the tuberosity of the tibia. It is an orthopaedic problem and as already mentioned, is self-limiting. Rarely it persist and cause pain during activities such a kneeling. Often there is a history of precipitating trauma, in which case the patient is advised to rest
Nobbly knees cannot be prevented, but exercising the quadriceps and hamstrings regularly is recommended especially for athletic pre-pubertal and pubertal teenagers. This is helpful as it reduces the tension around the area where the quadriceps and hamstring tendon attached to the shin bone. The best time to do these stretches is just before you are going to take part in strenuous physical activity. Such exercises not only strengthen your knees, but they also stabilize knees over time. In case you do get nobbly knees, elevate and rest your legs and apply ice packs. Analgesics such as Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) and Ibuprofen can be taken to kill the pain. For further alleviation, use crutches when walking to take body weight off your legs. These measures will help lessen the symptoms of nobbly knees due to OSD if not entirely prevent the condition. If all else fails, and the pain is excruciating and does not subsides, surgical intervention can be made.
Tips and Comments
Except rarely, the prognosis of this condition is excellent. Inform your school's physical trainer and your parents if you suspect you are developing nobbly knees. The above mentioned tips are sure to help you out, and if started early and care is taken properly, theses conditions may even prevent the development of the bony bump and pain. Don't worry and rest assured that this is a part of your growth spurt. The inflamation, swelling and calcification visible in an X-ray of the knee will confirm the diagnosis of OSD. For medical help and information, as well as surgical intervention, visit a health facility or your family doctor if needed.