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Treatment. Osteochondritis Dissecans

By Editorial Team (A)
November 21, 2021

Osteochondritis dissecans treatment

Treatment goals of osteochondritis dissecans are focused on restoring normal function to the affected joint, relieving pain, and reducing the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the affected joint. There is no single treatment for osteochondritis dissecans that works for every person. If a child’s bones are not yet done growing, the defect in the bone sometimes heals with simple rest and measures to protect it.

Conservative treatment

When osteochondritis is first diagnosed, treatments generally recommended first include: 

  • Rest. Patients with osteochondritis dissecans should avoid any activity that stresses the affected joint. It includes activities such as running and jumping. Crutches may be needed for a while, especially if the pain of osteochondritis dissecans is causing a limp. The patient may also need a brace. Wearing a brace will help the knee rest by immobilizing it. 
  • Physical therapy. Most of the time, exercises include stretching and strengthening the muscles around the joint affected by osteochondritis dissecans. If surgery is needed, physical therapy is often ordered during rehab, also. 

Osteochondritis dissecans surgery

If, after approximately six months, non-surgical treatments have failed to provide relief from osteochondritis dissecans, surgery may be needed. A surgeon may need to remove loose pieces of bone and cartilage. Alternatively, fragments may need to be reconnected to the bone surgically. Depending on the amount of damage, arthroscopic surgery may be used rather than open surgery. In this type of surgery, tiny incisions are needed. The procedure is performed through these small openings using a tiny camera.

Some new operative procedures use a patient’s bone marrow in surgery for osteochondritis dissecans.

Osteochondritis dissecans prevention

Because many joint injuries occur due to overuse, people who participate in organized athletic programs, including adolescents, might benefit from instruction on how to reduce their chance of injury. In addition, education in the proper techniques and mechanics associated with each particular sports activity and instruction in stability and strength training exercises might help decrease the risk of osteochondritis dissecans.

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