Osteochondritis Dissecans

Patient Education

 What Is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a joint disorder characterized by the detachment of a piece of cartilage and underlying bone from the surface of a joint, most commonly occurring in the knee, but it can also affect other joints like the elbow and ankle. This detachment can disrupt blood flow to the affected area, leading to degeneration and potential loose body formation within the joint. OCD can result in symptoms such as pain, swelling, and joint dysfunction, and it typically affects children and adolescents involved in sports activities, although it can occur in adults as well.

What Can Cause Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Causes or risk factors of Osteochondritis Dissecans include:

  • Repetitive stress or trauma to the affected joint, such as repetitive microtrauma from sports activities or overuse injuries.
  • Genetic predisposition, as certain individuals may have an increased risk of developing OCD due to inherited factors.
  • Abnormalities in joint development or bone growth, which may predispose individuals to OCD, particularly during periods of rapid skeletal growth during childhood and adolescence.
  • Reduced blood flow to the subchondral bone (the bone beneath the cartilage), which can impair healing and predispose to the development of OCD lesions.
  • Metabolic or endocrine disorders that affect bone health and metabolism, such as juvenile osteoporosis or hormonal imbalances, which may increase the risk of developing OCD.
  • Participation in high-impact or contact sports activities, such as football, gymnastics, or basketball, which increase the risk of joint injuries and trauma.

These factors can contribute to the development of OCD lesions and may increase the likelihood of symptoms and complications in affected individuals.

What Are The Symptoms Of Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans may include:

  • Pain in the affected joint, particularly with activity or weight-bearing, which may worsen over time.
  • Swelling and tenderness around the affected joint, especially along the joint line.
  • Joint stiffness or decreased range of motion, with difficulty fully bending or straightening the affected joint.
  • Catching, locking, or clicking sensations within the joint, which may indicate loose bodies or fragments within the joint space.
  • Instability or a feeling of the joint “giving way” during movement or weight-bearing activities.
  • Muscle weakness or atrophy in the surrounding muscles, particularly if the OCD lesion affects joint stability and function.

These symptoms can vary depending on the size, location, and severity of the OCD lesion, as well as any associated joint pathology or degenerative changes present.

How To Prvent Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Preventing Osteochondritis Dissecans primarily involves reducing the risk of joint injuries and optimizing joint health and function. Strategies may include:

  • Incorporating proper warm-up and cool-down exercises into sports activities to prepare the muscles and joints for movement and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Using appropriate protective gear and equipment, such as knee braces or supportive padding, particularly during high-impact or contact sports.
  • Avoiding repetitive stress or overuse of the joints, particularly during periods of rapid skeletal growth or development.
  • Cross-training and varying sports activities to promote balanced muscle development and reduce the risk of overuse injuries in the joints.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle habits, including regular exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate rest, to support overall joint health and reduce the risk of degenerative changes in the cartilage and bone.
  • Listening to the body and paying attention to warning signs of joint pain, swelling, or dysfunction, and seeking medical evaluation if persistent symptoms or concerns arise.

By implementing these preventive measures and practicing good joint care habits, individuals can help reduce the risk of Osteochondritis Dissecans and promote long-term joint health and function.


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