What is Osteochondritis?
Also known as OCD or OD, Osteochondritis is the result of joint separation where the cartilage or a fragment of bone is inflamed and separates from the rest of the bone. In some cases, the cartilage or bone fragment stays in place. However, if it lodges in the joint space, the bone may cause much pain and hinder the joint function.
- Sore or painful knee joint
- Locking or grinding sensation
- Stiffness after inactivity
Despite much research into the condition, there is still no certainty to what actually causes Osteochondritis. However, experts have narrowed it down to three possibilities. Firstly, ischemia – a restriction of the bloody supply, invariably linked to trauma. Secondly, repeated stress to the knee, commonly found in those who partake in competitive sports. And thirdly, genetics – the appearance of the condition in other family members may heighten your own susceptibility.
Options include non-surgical and surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatment is limited to skeletally immature teenagers with a relatively small, intact lesion and the absence of loose bodies. Resting, cryotherapy and abstaining from intensive sports (at least until symptoms stop) often relieves pain and inflammation. Symptoms do not subside over a period of time, the use of crutches, or perhaps even surgery, may be required. The type and extent of surgery will vary based on patient age and severity of the lesion.
Protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation (PRICE) can help reduce swelling, inflammation and pain before and after surgery for Osteochondritis. The PRICE approach is recommended by NHS Choices:
- Protection – protect the knee from further injury, using a support bandage if appropriate
- Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury
- Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after knee injuries, apply a cooling therapy like Physicool
- Compression – compress or bandage the injured knee to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further
- Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling.