What is osteochondritis dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans is described as an injury to the knee that is quite common among adolescents. This condition can also affect other joints occasionally such as the ankle and elbow.

Symptoms

The symptoms of this condition tend to vary depending on the severity of the displacement of the fragment inside the joint. In case there is minimal or no displacement, there might be few or no symptoms at all while the site of the fracture can heal on its own. To learn to recognize and manage the symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans, register for first aid course with a credible provider near you.

Osteochondritis dissecans

As for cases in which the ligaments are fully dislodged and floating within the joint, severe symptoms are likely to occur such as throbbing joint pain, swelling of the knee joint that is worsened by activity and diminished range of motion.

As for cases in which the ligaments are fully dislodged and floating within the joint, severe symptoms are likely to occur such as throbbing joint pain, swelling of the knee joint that is worsened by activity and diminished range of motion. It is important to note that the knee may lock or catch and in some cases, it will feel unstable or there is a sensation that it will give away. An X-ray, CT scan or MRI is usually requested by the doctor to confirm the presence of osteochondritis dissecans.

Possible causes

  • Overuse
  • Traumatic injury
  • Genetics
  • Weakness of the ligaments
  • Growth disturbances
  • Injuries to the ligaments

Osteochondritis dissecans is usually caused by the parting of a cartilage fragment from the surface area of the joint. Take note that this typically occurs due to a disruption in the flow of blood that typically occurs at the medial femoral condyle.

This piece is oftentimes called as a loose body due to its tendency to float around inside the knee joint. The condition is also known as osteochondral fracture and tends to occur more often among males.

Treatment

Osteochondritis dissecans is typically managed using conservative measures without requiring surgery. The treatment involves adequate rest, application of ice pack and compression to help minimize the swelling. Cold therapy should be applied for 10 minutes every hour initially and steadily reduced to 3-4 times in a day as the swelling subsides. In most cases, anti-inflammatory medications are also prescribed by the doctor to help ease the symptoms.

Physical therapy usually involves exercises to maintain full range of motion as well as strengthen the surrounding muscles. Both knee strengthening and mobility exercises are vital, especially if the injury sustained by the individual prevented any form of activity for a period of time. In extreme cases, immobilization is oftentimes used by the doctor.

In severe cases or if the conservative treatments failed, surgery might be the last resort. Surgery is carried out via arthroscopy in which various procedures might be used depending on the extent of injury. It is important to note that the loose bodies will be taken away and the fracture site is repaired.

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