Osteochondritis Dissecans

By By: Justin Delicato, PTA

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Osteochondritis Dissecans most commonly occurs in adolescents and young children and is a condition that affects the body’s joints. Lack of blood flow to a portion of the bone causes a segment of the bone and cartilage to break loose, contributing to joint pain and dysfunction. This condition is typically associated with the joints of the knee, ankle, and elbow but could also affect the other joints of the body.

Osteochondritis Dissecans

Image of Knee Pain From Osteochondritis Dissecans


Bone Anatomy of the Knee 

To understand Osteochondritis Dissecans, we first need to understand how our joints work. A joint is where the ends of bones meet, and cartilage covers and protects the ends of your bones where they meet to form the joint. Cartilage allows for our joints to move freely and smoothly. Joints are located throughout the body, but typically with Osteochondritis Dissecans, the joints affected mostly are the knee and ankle but can also occur in the other surrounding joints.

What causes Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Knee Anatomy

Anatomy of the Knee

Causes for poor blood supply to the bone remain unknown, but Doctors believe repetitive stress to the joint can contribute to joint dysfunction. Activities such as running or jumping, which are high-impact activities, may cause repetitive stress to the joint.


  • Pain- most common symptom which typically increases with impact activity such as running or jumping
  • Swelling- typically worse following activity
  • Joint Locking- caused from a loose fragment or segment of the bone and cartilage catching between the joint
  • Loss of Range of Motion- ability to straighten the knee is the most common loss of range of motion.
  • Weakness- sensation feelings of your leg “giving away.”

Diagnosis of Osteochondritis Dissecans

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you should seek medical advice. A doctor will perform a physical examination and possibly imaging tests, such as an X-ray, CT, MRI scan, or ultrasound. Physical examination and imaging testing, depending on the integrity of the bone and cartilage, will determine further treatment.

Treatment for Osteochondritis Dissecans

It is recommended to rest and avoid high-impact activities for a while. A doctor might also recommend bracing to reduce stress within the joint. Your MD may prescribe Physical therapy to address any flexibility, range of motion, or strength impairments. Surgery is a possibility if conservative measures fail. Surgery can consist of either a microfracture surgery drilling into the dead bone to create pathways for new blood vessels to form in. This helps to encourage the bone to heal. Another form of surgery is osteochondral autograft transfer (OATS), using healthy cartilage to replace damaged cartilage.

What JOI has to offer?

JOI team of physicians that focus on your orthopedic treatment. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and would like to see a physician regarding this, JOI offers five different MD locations, and they are located throughout northeast Florida, including:

  • South
  • Beaches
  • Clay/Fleming Island
  • Nassau
  • San Marco

Call 904-JOI-2000 to book your appointment today!

To schedule an appointment for physical therapy, please call JOI Rehab at 904-858-7045.

By: Justin Delicato, PTA

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