Definition of Osteochondritis Dissecans:

Osteochondritis dissecans is a joint condition in which a piece of cartilage, along with a thin layer of the bone beneath it, comes loose from the end of a bone.

Caused by reduced blood flow to the end of a bone, osteochondritis dissecans occurs most often in young men, particularly after an injury to a joint. The knee is most commonly affected, although osteochondritis dissecans can occur in other joints, including your elbow, shoulder, hip and ankle.

If the loosened piece of cartilage and bone stays put, lying close to where it detached, you may have few or no symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans, and the fracture can often heal by itself. Surgical repair may be necessary if the fragment gets jammed between the moving parts of your joint.

Osteochondritis Dissecans

What are the symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Signs and symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans may include:

  • Pain. The most common symptom of osteochondritis dissecans, pain may be triggered by physical activity — walking up stairs, climbing a hill or playing sports.
  • Joint popping or locking. Your joint may pop or get stuck in one position if a loose fragment gets caught between the bones during movement.
  • Joint weakness. You may feel that your joint is “giving way” or weakening.
  • Decreased range of motion. You may be unable to straighten your leg or arm completely.
  • Swelling and tenderness. The skin around your joint may become swollen and tender.

What are the causes of Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans appears to be caused by a reduction of blood flow to the end of the affected bone. This may occur from repetitive trauma of small, multiple episodes of minor unrecognized injury that damage the end of the affected bone. There may also be a genetic component involved, making some people more inclined to develop the disorder.

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