Osteochondritis dissecans

Osteochondritis dissecans (os-tee-o-kon-DRY-tis DIS-uh-kanz) 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.

Osteochondritis dissecans occurs most often in young men, particularly after an injury to a joint. Osteochondritis dissecans is most common in the knee. But, osteochondritis dissecans can occur in other joints.

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

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

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 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.

When to see a doctor

If you have persistent pain or soreness in your knee, elbow or another joint, see your doctor. Other signs and symptoms that should prompt a call or visit to your doctor include joint swelling or an inability to move a joint through its full range of motion.

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