Osteochondritis dissecans of the knee occurs when cartilage in the knee joint – sometimes with a section of the bone attached – breaks away. Such a fragment may become lodged in the joint, which can limit the range of motion in the knee.
If you are diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans, our knee specialist may:
- immobilise your knee
- prescribe pain-relief medication
- refer you to a physiotherapist for treatment to strengthen your knee
If bone in your knee has fragmented and broken away, your doctor may:
- recommend surgery to remove any loose fragments and repair the damaged bone.
Causes of Knee Osteochondritis Dissecans
Osteochondritis dissecans can be caused by an injury or a series of injuries to your knee, which are most likely to occur in collision. Impact or repetitive stress from running on a hard surface, for example, can lead to cartilage tearing or fragmenting. When the bone under your cartilage is injured, blood supply may be restricted; this can lead to bone tissue dying, causing the cartilage to fragment and become dislodged. The condition occurs most frequently in teenagers.
Symptoms & Diagnosis of Knee Osteochondritis Dissecans
The onset of symptoms is gradual. You may feel stiffness, weakness, and occasional swelling in your knee. Pain may be located in the centre of your knee, or a general ache, and the movement of your knee will be restricted. When bending or straightening your knee, you may experience a clicking or grating sensation within it and it may “lock”. There may also be tenderness at the lower end of your thigh bone. Our doctor will assess your symptoms and recommend an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
Risks & Complication of Osteochondritis Dissecans
If you leave osteochondritis dissecans untreated, loose fragments of cartilage or bone could cause further damage inside your knee joint, leading to chronic pain, impaired function and, ultimately, early osteoarthritis.