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Is Osteochondritis Dissecans A Serious Condition & Can It Be Reversed?

Osteochondritis Dissecans refers to a joint condition, where varying amounts of bone and the adjacent cartilage suffer loss in terms of the blood supply. The problem involves both cartilage and bone of almost every joint virtually. Knees and elbows affect the problem more commonly than other joints. In most of the cases, a small part of the affected cartilage combined with the bone remains involved. The problem mainly affects boys from 9years to 18years age.(1)

Is Osteochondritis Dissecans A Serious Condition?

Severity Of Osteochondritis Dissecans Depend On Its Symptoms:

Common signs and symptoms associated with osteochondritis dissecans depend solely on the affected joints. Accordingly, these include-

Pain: Pain is a common symptom related to osteochondritis dissecans and it triggers various physical activities, like climbing a mountain or hill, walking up through stairs, and playing any type of sports activities.

Tenderness And Swelling: In some cases, osteochondritis dissecans cause both swelling and tenderness of the skin across your affected joint.

Locking Or Popping Of Joints: Your joints may stick or pop in a single position in the case a loose fragment caught between the affected bones at the time of body movement.

Weakness Of Joints: Patients of osteochondritis dissecans may feel like the joints give away or become weak.

Reduction In The Range Of Motion: You may experience a reduction in the range of motion or may fail to make your affected limb straight completely.(2)

Severity Of Osteochondritis Dissecans Depend On Its Complications:

Short-term complications associated with osteochondritis dissecans are non-healing or nonunion of various OCD lesions, removal of hardware in the case of using pin fixation, the standard type of postoperative complications, and loss damage across the knee. On the other side, long-term complications associated with osteochondritis dissecans is osteoarthritis.(3)

Severity Of Osteochondritis Dissecans Depend On Its Prognosis:

  • Along with underlying symptoms, doctors may determine the severity of osteochondritis dissecans according to its prognosis.
  • Prognosis depends solely on the affected joint, age of a patient, and his/her lesion stage at presentation.
  • Young patients with stable and small medial femoral types of condylar lesions have a good prognosis.
  • Unstable lesions in patients may heal easily after the stabilization process. However, long-term prognosis, in this case, is still doubtful. Chronic loose fragments are difficult to fix and often heal poorly.
  • Large lesions excision because of various weight-bearing zones often intend to deliver poor outcomes.(4)

Can You Reverse Osteochondritis Dissecans?

You should consider the size of a lesion, its stability, location, and symptomatology while determining the treatment algorithms. Skeletally immature patients give a response to the non-operative type of disease management techniques. These include weight-bearing and activity restrictions, bracing or casting. Also, one has to limit his/her excessive jumping or running in sports-related activities.

If you do not experience any effusion or sign related to lesion instability, you may take part in any type of sport according to your age. Simultaneously, a patient of osteochondritis dissecans has to stop the extra training and conditioning sessions. Patients can take part in a few of the high level of competitive sports, such as soccer, gymnastics, and basketball round the year but with certain restrictions.

On the other side, if your condition related to osteochondritis dissecans does not improve via non-operative management techniques or your disease is skeletally mature and has unstable lesions, you have to undergo operative management. Operative interventions are retro-articular or notch drilling, trans-articular method, internal fixation, bone fixation and bone grafting, osteochondral allograft, and osteochondral autograft techniques. Other than this, patients need 3months to 6month’s healing period depending solely on the lesion size.(3)


The severity of Osteochondritis Dissecans may be anything depending on the age of a person, underlying symptoms, involvement in sports, and affected joints. Treatment options are only helpful to manage the condition.


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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 24, 2020

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