What is Osteochondritis Dissecans? | Total Performance Physical Therapy

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

January 5, 2015

Osteochondritis Dissecans is a condition that occurs in a joint, where a small segment of bone begins to separate from its surrounding region due to a lack of blood supply.   As a result, the small piece of bone and the cartilage covering it begin to crack and loosen.   Osteochondritis Dissecans occurs in children and adolescents, most often in young men, particularly after an injury to a joint. The most common location for Osteochondritis Dissecans is the knee joint, but it can occur in any joint.

It is not known exactly what causes the disruption of blood supply resulting in Osteochondritis Dissecans.  Physicians tend to think that the disruption of blood flow is due to micro-trauma, repetitive trauma or stresses to the affected bone or joint.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans may include:


After a physical inspection of the affected joint, a physician will then require further testing in the form of an x-ray, MRI, CT scan or a bone scan. These tests allow physician to see if the joint surface appears rough or if a fragment of bone seems to be separating and to determine the necessary plan of action.  Surgery may be required if the lesion is separated or detached from the surrounding bone and cartilage or the lesion is very large.

Physical Therapy is recommended to treat Osteochonritis Dissecans whether surgery is or is not required.  Most often, physical therapy includes stretching and range-of-motion exercises, and strengthening exercises for the muscles that support the involved joint. Physical therapy can help with pain and swelling in the affected joint, expedite healing and return to function.  For more information on physical therapy services visit www.totalperformancept.com.