Osteochondritis Dissecans

Osteochondritis dissecans (OD) is a joint condition in which cracks form in the cartilage and bone. Eventually, the cartilage, along with a portion of the bone, can break off, thus moving freely in the joint space. The condition most commonly occurs in the knee, although it can occur in other joints and most frequently is seen in young and adolescent males. Currently, some suggest that the cause of OD is lack of blood flow to the affected area; others argue that the condition develops as a result of repetitive trauma. Pain is the primary symptom of OD; however, if the loose fragment gets stuck between bones during joint movement, then one may experience joint popping or locking. Weakness, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion (ROM) are other possible symptoms. If any symptoms beyond pain occur or if the pain is persistent, seek medical attention. Proper diagnosis most likely will involve x-ray. While some medical professionals may recommend surgery depending on the severity of the condition, physical therapy (PT) is a common treatment method for OD. PT can include stretching and exercises to improve ROM and strengthening exercises. Additionally, surgeons may prescribe PT following surgery, which can last six to eight weeks and involve a home exercise regimen.