Osteochondritis Dessicans

What is Osteochondritis Dessicans?

Osteochondritis dessicans (OCD) is a condition where a piece of the joint surface (articular cartilage and bone) becomes loose and sometimes breaks off completely from the surface of the joint.

It commonly occurs at the end of the thighbone on the inner side of the knee (medial femoral condyle) in adolescents and young adults.

Symptoms of Osteochondritis

OCD typically presents with pain in the knee. It may begin after a specific injury, but can often develop over several months in highly active people.

The pain is usually worsened by exercise.

Clicking (crepitus), catching, or locking of the joint may occur during the later stages of OCD, especially if the fragment breaks off and becomes  a “loose body”  moving around  in the joint.

Diagnosing Osteochondritis

You will not usually need any special tests. Your surgeon or physiotherapist should be able to tell if you have this condition from your symptoms and by examining your knee.

At My Knee Doc, we will usually obtain an x-ray or more commonly an MRI scan to get more information to allow us to plan any treatment that might be required.

Treating Osteochondritis

The first part of treatment involves things you can do on your own to reduce your pain. To ease your symptoms, you can:

Rest your knee and avoid activities or movements that make the pain worse.

Apply ice on the affected area when it hurts or after you indulge in pain causing activities.

Take a pain-relieving medicine. Over-the-counter medicines include paracetemol or ibuprofen.

For smaller lesions that are more stable (i.e. those that are still attached to the joint surface) My Knee Doc recommends immobilisation in a hinged knee brace and crutches to keep the weight off the leg. This usually lasts for 4-6 weeks or until there are signs of healing.

My Knee Doc may recommend a physiotherapy programme to help keep the knee moving and avoid weakening of the muscles while you are immobilised.

If the OCD lesion does not heal or if it has broken loose, then surgery is often needed and various techniques can be used such as fixation of the lesion using bioabsorbable screws, microfracture, osteochondral grafting or autologous chondrocyte transplantation. 

Preventing Osteochondritis

As we don’t know the reasons why osteochondritis happens to some people then it is difficult to prevent, however, if it is diagnosed early it can often be treated and further damage to the joint may be prevented. If you develop knee symptoms that do not settle then early advice from your doctor, physiotherapist or surgeon is advised.

Contact My Knee Doc for a consultation to discuss your options for treating osteochondritis dessicans.

Call 0161 4646399  today to arrange a consultation with Mr Gareth Stables.