Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee

Osteochondritis dissecans of the knee occurs when a piece of bone separates from the area that forms a joint. When this takes place, a dead area of cartilage and bone forms a lesion. It can stay in place, partially detach, or break away inside the joint. This condition most commonly affects children and adolescents.


The exact cause of osteochondritis dissecans of the knee is still unknown. It is thought to be caused by interrupted blood supply at the end of the bone. It has also been tied to repeated stress on the joint from athletic activity. It is possible that some people are genetically predisposed to the condition.


Pain that worsens with activity is the most common symptom of osteochondritis dissecans of the knee. Weakness, swelling and tenderness at the knee are also possible symptoms. Loss of mobility and a locking sensation in the knee can occur, as well.


Physicians will conduct a physical examination to properly diagnose osteochondritis of the knee. X-rays and MRIs are commonly used to identify the location and severity of the separated bone and cartilage.


In minor cases, the knee will heal on its own with rest, knee bracing, and physical therapy. Surgery may be required when the bone has completely fragmented.

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