Osteochondritis dissecans is a joint condition where thin pieces of inflamed, cartilage-covered bone begin peeling away from the end of a long bone within a joint completely or partially. The word “osteo” means bone, “chondros” means cartilage, “itis” means inflammation and “Dissecans” means cutting or dissecting. This condition mainly happens when the bone underneath the cartilage of a joint dies because of lack of blood flow. Osteochondritis dissecans can cause both pain as well as hinder joint motion.
Most often adolescents and children can be affected by this joint condition. Osteochondritis dissecans occurs commonly in the knee at the far end of the femur bone but it can also appear in the ankle or elbow or in any other joint. The trigger for the condition could be after an injury to a joint or after several months of high-impact activity such as jumping and running, that affects the joint. Some people could also be genetically more inclined to have this joint condition.
As for the symptoms signs and symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans this can vary depending on the joint that’s affected. If the loosened piece of cartilage and bone stays in place, there may not be much symptoms whereas in children whose bones are still developing, the injury might even heal by itself.
Some signs to watch out for can be pain triggered by walking up the stairs, climbing a hill or playing sports, the skin around the joint might be swollen and tender, the joint might pop or stick in one position if a loose fragment gets caught between bones during movement, some joint weakness and decrease range of motion especially in the inability to straighten the affected joint. Another potential symptom can include fluid in the joint space.
As this condition could be confused with other joint issues there are some scenarios where you must most definitely see a doctor to get a diagnosis or to rule this out. If there is persistent pain or soreness in the knee, elbow or another joint or if there is any joint swelling or an inability to move a joint through its full range of motion. Osteochondritis dissecans can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis in that joint ultimately so it is best to catch it early without complicating it.
Since Osteochondritis dissecans is usually seen in adolescents highly active in sports there can be some tips to prevent it in the first place. The first step is to have awareness on the risks to their joints associated with overuse. The next key thing is to learn the proper mechanics and techniques of their sport, using the proper protective gear, and participating in strength training and stability training exercises.
Treatment for Osteochondritis dissecans can involve rest, improved nutrition, and devices to immobilize the joint in the early stages of the condition. The OCD lesions have a greater chance of separating from the surrounding bone and cartilage, and can even detach and float around inside the joint. Surgery might be necessary if the fragment comes loose and gets caught between the moving parts of your joint or if you have persistent pain.
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