Dealing with Osteochondritis Dissecans

Osteochondritis dissecans is a medical condition in which the bone and cartilage loses the blood supply that enables them to function properly. This usually happens to boys between 9 to 18 years of age that are active in sports. This joint disease usually affects a boy’s knees, but it can affect the elbows and ankles as well.


Symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans include pain, soreness, stiffness, locking of the joint, and limited range of joint movement. The pain usually flares up after an intense physical activity. Those that are at a higher risk for osteochondritis dissecans are football, basketball, and soccer players.

For most children, the pain fades away and the bone will heal on its own by having plenty of rest and protecting the knee with splint, cast, or braces. Physical therapy can also be implemented to strengthen the bone joint. Your child can return to normal activities as symptoms improve over time.


However, if your child’s joint pain remains persistent and does not go away, you should seek professional medical attention. The symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans are quite similar to other bone and joint diseases so it is important to establish an accurate diagnosis as well as implement the right treatment plan.

Initial treatment for OCD usually begins with the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method. A cast or a brace may be used to strengthen the joint and weight-bearing exercises may be implemented. However, if these do not work, surgical intervention may be needed to improve the outcome.

A patient suffering from severe osteochondritis dissecans can be treated with arthroscopy to remove the problematic cartilage from the joint. Another option is drilling the bone lesion to create new pathways for the blood vessels to flow. A graft can also be done to replace the damaged joint with a new bone and cartilage.

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