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How Does Osteochondritis Dissecans Affect My Life & What Triggers It?

Osteochondritis is a disorder during which the blood flow through other parts of the body is interrupted. When there is no proper blood supply, the bones and its associated cartilages get separated from the bone resulting in loosening and breaking of the joints.

Osteochondritis dissecans often produces sharp and achy pain and swelling in the underlying regions. Knee, ankle, and elbow are the most common parts typically affected with Osteochondritis. The exact cause of the condition is still under investigation and studies show that it can run in families when your parents or relatives undergone this condition however many theories contradict this opinion.

How Does Osteochondritis Dissecans Affect Your Life?

Osteochondritis dissecans generally cause pain in the affected joints and muscles causing swelling and stiffness. The pain usually occurs after periods of inactivity or when performing certain activities that cause stress on the inflamed areas. During such an instance, you may feel that you are stuck and feel weak & clumsy.

When you have recurrent pain, you should check with your health care provider who can suggest imaging studies after the initial physical exam. MRI scan will help them evaluate your joints and also check if the joints are loose or broken?

Treatment for osteochondritis often depends on the patient’s age and affected region. This is also dependent on the progression of the condition.1 Most cases of Osteochondritis dissecans are stable and don’t require any surgery. Surgery will be recommended when the treatment fails to relieve pain and swelling.

According to the Center for Disease Control, Osteochondritis and its associated knee pain are often the leading cause of disability in several countries worldwide. People living with this condition suffer from mobility issues since their joint pain and swelling restrict their ability to work and perform daily routines.

Walking – A regular walking program is the recommended mode of treatment for all cases of knee pain because walking improves the symptoms of osteochondritis and reduces swelling and inflammation. However, the loss of flexibility or stiffness eventually changes the normal way you move. So, osteochondritis patients require some adaptive requirements such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and a few others for their movements.

Climbing Stairs- Climbing is a natural task that is taken for granted. But this is not the case for people with osteochondritis because it becomes challenging when they try to shift their weights while maneuvering steps.

Kneeling- Most daily tasks require some degree of kneeling, but it is often not possible for Osteochondritis dissecans patients to lower their position.2,3

What Triggers Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Experts don’t know the exact reason what causes the blood flow to get interrupted in a bone segment. However, the reduced blood flow results in recurrent trauma and short episodes of injury resulting in the breakdown of cartilages and bones. Studies show that certain factors typically contribute to this condition. This includes

Ischemia- This is a condition wherein there is a buildup or blockage in arteries causing a shortage of oxygen resulting in damage to tissues. This is a reversible condition leading to blood and vascular problems

Genetic Factors- Osteochondritis is not hereditary but there are higher chances that genes are associated with this immune disorder. When you have a close relative with this condition, there is an increased probability of developing this disorder.

Repeated Stress To The Bone- Certain tasks require repetitive movements, these movements (playing competitive sports) adds more stress resulting in injury and stress on joints.4

Osteochondritis dissecans can enhance your possibility of ultimately developing osteoarthritis in the affected joints.


  1. “Osteochondritis Dissecans (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth.” Edited by Alvin Su, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Apr. 2019, kidshealth.org/en/parents/osteochondritis-dissecans.html
  2. “Osteochondritis Dissecans: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21073-osteochondritis-dissecans.
  3. “Osteochondritis Dissecans.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Sept. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteochondritis-dissecans/symptoms-causes/syc-20375887.
  4. , William C. Shiel. “Osteochondritis Dissecans Treatment, Symptoms & Causes.” MedicineNet, MedicineNet, 15 Aug. 2018, www.medicinenet.com/osteochondritis_dissecans/article.htm.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 20, 2020

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