A condition that affects various joints in the body, Osteochondritis Dissecans is the result of a piece of bone getting partially or entirely separated from the end of the bone forming. An obstruction in the blood supply to the area is often the cause of this issue. With the piece of the bone gradually dying, the cartilage covering it cracks too and both may break loose, causing pain and affecting movement. The area where the bone fragment breaks off is called a lesion.
This entire process takes months or years. Consequently, symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans may take a long time to appear.
Most vulnerable joint
Osteochondritis Dissecans most commonly affects the knee joint while it can also be seen in elbows and ankles. The condition can also occur in other joints, including the shoulder and hip. Osteochondritis dissecans usually develops in just one joint. Rarely, this condition appears in more than one joint
What causes osteochondritis dissecans?
While repeated trauma or stress to a joint over time are cited as possible explanations for this disorder, the exact cause of osteochondritis dissecans is unknown. Familial osteochondritis dissecans is caused by inherited mutations to the ACAN gene, which is the source of a cartilage-building protein called aggrecan.
Osteochondritis Dissecans: Symptoms
- Restricted movement
- Locking and catching of the affected joint
- Clicking sound when moving the joint
While people of any age can develop the condition, Osteochondritis Dissecans occurs most commonly in children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20. Children in this age group who are highly active in sports are also more susceptible to this disorder.
Stages of Osteochondritis Dissecans
Stage I: Depressed osteochondral fracture
Stage II: Fragment attached by osseous bridge
Stage III: Detached non-displaced fragment
Stage IV: Displaced fragment
Osteochondritis Dissecans: Treatment
More commonly affecting children and adolescents, this condition can self-heal among people. However, if the injury has reached its worst stage where the bone and the cartilage both break loose, surgery may be required.
Depending on the stage of the problem, this issue can be resolved through non-surgical and surgical interventions. Rest, stress reduction and cast to immobilise the affected joint are some of the non-surgical methods to treat Osteochondritis Dissecans. Your doctor may also recommend a nonprescription pain reliever/anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen. The injury may heal between 6 to 12 weeks.
Surgery is required in older patients, if the lesions are unstable and in patients who have failed conservative management. In case of surgery, the patient might be able to resume rigorous physical activity four to five months after surgery.
What is the cause of Osteochondritis Dissecans?
While the cause of this injury is unknown, repetitive trauma could be responsible for causing obstruction of blood flow. Some people may be genetically more vulnerable to this condition than others. X-rays and an MRI of the joint are required to detect the disorder. Computed tomography (CT) scan may be required to get more detailed results.
Can Osteochondritis Dissecans be prevented?
No, osteochondritis dissecans cannot be prevented since its causes aren’t known.