Osteochondritis Dissecans: Causes & Symptoms

When a lack of blood flow results in the death of bone underneath the cartilage of a joint, osteochondritis dissecans (os-tee-o-kon-DRY-tis DIS-uh-kanz) occurs. This can result in cartilage and bone breaking loose, which in addition to being painful, can inhibit joint motion.

Children and adolescents are the most likely to experience osteochondritis dissecans. Symptoms can occur as early as immediately after the injury or after several months of activity (particularly activity with high impact on the joint, such as jumping or running). Osteochondritis dissecans is most common in the knee, but can impact any number of other joints such as elbows and ankles.

Osteochondritis dissecans is staged by doctors in accordance to the size of the injury, whether or not the fragment has stayed in place, and if the fragment is completely or just partially detached. In cases when the loosened piece of bone and cartilage stay in place, the afflicted individual may not experience any symptoms.

Osteochondritis dissecans occurring in young children may heal by itself, as their bones are still developing. However, if the fragment is loosened to the point of being caught between the joint’s moving parts, surgery may be necessary. Dr. Rehman may also recommend surgery to patients experiencing persistent pain.

Symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans

Symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans will vary depending on the affected joint, but the most common symptom is pain. Pain associated with osteochondritis dissecans is typically triggered by physical activity such as climbing stairs or playing sports.

Osteochondritis dissecans is also frequently accompanied by swelling and tenderness of the skin around the afflicted joint. Additionally, if a loose fragment is caught between during bones, patients may experience the joint popping or locking. Joints may also feel weakened, or as if they’re “giving way.” Osteochondritis dissecans may also cause a decreased range of motion, making it difficult or impossible to straighten the affected limb completely.  If any of the above symptoms persist, contact board-certified Doctor Uzma Rehman for a consultation.

Causes of Osteochondritis Dissecans

Osteochondritis dissecans can be caused by repetitive trauma to the bone. Recurring instances of small, unperceived injury over time can result in reduced blood flow and damage to the bone. Doctors also believe there may be a genetic component to osteochondritis dissecans, meaning some people are predisposed to develop the disorder.

Risk Factors for Osteochondritis Dissecans

In most cases, osteochondritis dissecans affects children and adolescents, with the main age range of patients being between the ages of 10 and 20. Most people treated for osteochondritis dissecans are athletes.

When a joint develops osteochondritis dissecans, it is at a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis in the future.

Preventing Osteochondritis Dissecans

Doctors encourage young athletes to understand the risks their joints face when overused. By implementing their sport’s correct techniques, using protective gear, and undergoing strength and stability training, adolescents give themselves a greater chance of preventing osteochondritis dissecans.

Top Clarkston Area Osteochondritis Doctor

If you are suffering from an injury or pain in your fingers, wrist, elbow or arm, contact board certified Clarkston area hand surgeon Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most medical conditions, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to combat the effects of conditions like Osteochondritis Dissecans.

Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your condition.

Clarkston Area Osteochondritis Doctor: 248.335.2638