What is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

If you’ve recently begun to experience pain, followed by difficulty moving one of your joints, you could be dealing with the condition known as osteochondritis dissecans. Since this condition is commonly found in athletes, our team at New York Sports Medicine Institute is well versed in diagnosing and treating osteochondritis dissecans. Dr. Neil S. Roth M.D., our orthopedist, can help get the impacted joint back to full health. For more information about this condition and what can be done for treatment, please visit our website or consult with our staff. 

What Is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Due to its nature, osteochondritis dissecans most commonly takes place in adolescents who live a relatively active lifestyle. This condition can affect any of the joints in your body. However, it most commonly occurs in the knees. During osteochondritis dissecans, the bone underneath the cartilage of a joint begins to die off due to a lack of blood flow. When this takes place, pieces of bone and cartilage can begin to break off. If these fragments get caught in the joint, it can cause pain and hinder mobility. Symptoms of this condition may include some of the following:

  • Pain triggered by physical activity.
  • Swelling and tenderness around an affected joint.
  • Issues with completely straightening out and bending the affected joint.
  • Experiencing a catching or locking sensation when moving the joint.

Common Causes

While the exact cause of osteochondritis dissecans is unknown, there are a few prevailing theories in the medical community. Repetitive trauma could be a culprit to the lack of blood flow to the end of the bone. Multiple episodes of small, unrecognized trauma can damage the bone, limiting the blood flow to this area. Having a genetic disposition to this condition may also play a role in the development of osteochondritis dissecans.       

Treating Osteochondritis Dissecans

By choosing to work with Dr. Roth and the rest of our team at New York Sports Medicine Institute, you’ll increase the chances of making a full recovery from this condition. In a majority of cases, all that is needed for treatment is rest and protection of the affected joint. If your case of osteochondritis dissecans falls into this category, Dr. Roth may have you wear a splint, cast, or brace for a few weeks to allow the bone to heal. The use of crutches may also be necessary if this condition has developed in a weight-bearing joint. He may also recommend a regimen of physical therapy to help facilitate healing. However, in severe cases, a more invasive form of treatment could be required.

When To Consider Surgery

For some patients, surgery can be the only option to resolve the problem at hand. Dr. Roth will consider all the treatment options before determining that a surgical procedure will yield the most optimal results. If the below factors apply to you, surgery may be in your future:

  • Pain has not been reduced with other forms of treatment.
  • A fragment of dead bone breaks off and gets stuck in the joint.
  • A broken piece of bone is moving around the joint. 
  • You’re currently faced with the inability to move your joint.  

What To Expect During Surgery

Depending on the severity of your condition, different surgeries can be performed to get the health of your joint back to full strength. As our lead orthopedic surgeon, specializing in sports medicine, Dr. Roth is well versed in the types of operations that help with this condition.  Examples of what can take place during a surgery to treat osteochondritis dissecans include:

  • Drilling into the affected bone to promote increased blood flow.
  • Removing the bone fragments that are stuck in the joint.
  • Using pins or screws to stabilize the dead bone tissue.
  • Performing a graft to replace the damaged bone and cartilage with new tissue.   

Request An Appointment

Osteochondritis dissecans can be a painful condition that hinders movement and athletic ability.  At New York Sports Medicine Institute, we don’t want to let an ailment such as this rule over our patient’s lives. If you require top-quality treatment, look no further than Dr. Roth. He’ll use all of the knowledge and expertise he has gathered over the years to do everything in his power to get you back to full strength. When you’re ready to receive the treatment you need, request an appointment with us today!