Osteochondritis dissecans is a joint problem which mainly affects active young males between ten and twenty years of age. Gymnasts and baseball players are most prone to it, and it is also being diagnosed in a higher percentage of girls as they become more active in sports. It is a joint problem which happens when a loss of blood supply causes a piece of cartilage and a piece of bone to detach from the end of a bone. This loose piece then falls into the space, making the joint unsteady. Most instances happen in the knee joints, but other joints are susceptible as well.
There are many symptoms which may point to this condition, some of which will be outlined here. The affected joint will swell up and also lock when you try to move it. It may click when you move it, and it will be difficult to fully extend your limb. After resting the joint will be especially stiff, and you will be in discomfort, especially after any activity. So, if you feel that you may have osteochondritis dissecans in the ankle or osteochondritis dissecans in your elbow or in any of your other joints you should consult with your physician.
Your doctor will examine the joint for any extra fluid in the joint while also testing it for any other causes of joint pain, such as fractures and sprains. If they do suspect that you suffer from osteochondritis dissecans they will first order an x-ray to check the entire joint. If signs appear then you will have an x-ray of the other joint. After these scans you will need either an MRI or a CT scan. This will show whether the loose bone is stable or not. If it has unfortunately moved into the empty space, you may need surgery.
There are many basic osteochondritis dissecans treatments of which you should be aware. If the bone is in danger of moving you should rest the joint as much as possible. If you have to engage in physical activities you should brace the joint and use reputable painkillers to reduce suffering and inflammation. It would be best to avoid all sports activities which cause you discomfort for around six to eight weeks. Your doctor may recommend some physical therapy such as swimming or stretching exercises.
These steps will help you treat the condition, but it is another matter as to whether it can be cured or not. Younger people have the best chance of fully recovering and returning to a high level of activity. However, they may have to refrain from participating in sports which require a repetitive motion, for example they may not be able to pitch a baseball. For adults, it is more likely that they will need to undergo surgery so it will be harder for them to completely recover. Furthermore, they may develop arthritis later on in their lifetime. If you think you may suffer from osteochondritis dissecans it is best to rest from sports and seek advice from your doctor to prevent lasting damage.