What is osteochondritis dissecans?


Know the basics

What is Osteochondritis dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition in which a portion of cartilage and underlying bone separates from a joint surface and may even become detached. It occurs most often in the hip and knee joints, followed by the ankle and elbow.

How common is Osteochondritis dissecans?

Young (ages 10 to 20) and middle-aged (ages 30 to 60) people, and those who play sports most often have it, more men than women.

Know the symptoms

What are some signs and symptoms of Osteochondritis dissecans?

Signs and symptoms of Osteochondritis dissecans depend on the affected joints. These symptoms may include:

  • Feeling painful, especially after exercise, but not everyone experienced the same pain. When pain does occur, it may be vague, mild, and aching and stop and start, which makes diagnosis hard.
  • Your joints may cracked or blocked (can not move anymore) if there is a fragment stuck in the bone when you move.
  • The joints weaken.
  • Poor range of motion: you may not be able to straighten your arms and legs affected by Osteochondritis dissecans.

There may be some signs ro symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptoms, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

When should you see your doctor?

Call your doctor if you see any symptoms:

  • Joint swelling or an inability to move a joint through its full range of motion.
  • If you have persistent pain or soreness in your knee, elbow or another joint.

Know the causes

What causes Osteochondritis dissecans?

The cause remains unclear, but osteochondritis dissecans appears to be related to loss of blood supply in the bone. This loss causes a small part of the bone to die. The affected part of bone may collapse, which makes a notch in the joint surface. Cartilage over this dead bone may become damaged. The dead bone may break off and form a loose body that floats around inside the joint. The disorder can occur in people after an injury or after repetitive trauma to the affected area. Other factors are sickle cell anemia and radiation therapy.

Know the risk factors

What increases your risk for Osteochondritis dissecans?

There are many risk factors for Osteochondritis dissecans, such as:

  • Osteochondritis dissecans occurs most commonly in children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20.
  • Gender: Men have higher risk than women.
  • Playing sports that are related to running, jumping and changing direction or speed can increase your risk of Osteochondritis dissecans.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist.

What are your treatment options for Osteochondritis dissecans?

Rest, immobilization, and anti inflammatory drugs usually produce excellent results. No diets or exercise programs speed healing. Surgery is rarely needed, especially for young people. Protecting the joint with a cast or brace can let the lesion heal without problems. If pain worsens and becomes constant or the joint locks and doesn’t bend or straighten, surgery, sometimes arthroscopic, may be done.

What are the most common test for Osteochondritis dissecans?

To diagnose osteochondritis dissecans, you will take physical examination first. During the physical examination, your doctor will press on the affected joint, checking for the swollen, painful area and requires you to move your joint in different directions to see if you can move normally. Your doctor will also check the structure of the bone around the affected area, such as ligament.

Then your doctor may perform some other tests to confirm the diagnosis include:

  • X-rays: can show abnormalities in the joint’s bones.
  • MRI: If X-rays appear normal but you still have symptoms, your doctor might order an MRI.
  • CT scans: allow your doctor to see bone in high detail, which can help pinpoint the location of loose fragments within the joint.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage osteochondritis dissecans?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Osteochondritis dissecans:

  • Rest and immobilize the area as needed.
  • Follow your doctor’s appointment for monitoring progression of symptoms as well as your health condition.
  • Listen to your doctor’s instruction, do not take unprescribed medicine or miss your dose.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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