What is Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee?

This joint condition, experienced when the bone under the cartilage of a joint forms cracks due to lack of blood flow, is typically noticed by the patient once the bone and cartilage break loose. This causes pain, limited mobility and swelling. While it is a somewhat rare condition, it is primarily experienced by children and adolescents, though adults are not immune from developing osteochondritis dissecans of the knee. Treatment for your osteochondritis dissecans of the knee will be dependent on the severity of the injury, including whether the loose areas of bone and cartilage are completely detached.



Some of the most common causes of osteochondritis dissecans of the knee include:

  • Repetitive, high-impact motion, such as jumping or running or participation in gymnastics, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, football and other highly physical sports
  • Growth spurts
  • Ischemia, or the restriction of blood flow
  • Avascular necrosis, or the loss of blood flow
  • Repetitive “micro-traumas”, which can lead to small hairline fractures and progressively alter certain components of the knee
  • Genetic predisposition


A number of symptoms could point to osteochondritis dissecans of the knee. Hallmark symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Pain, particularly triggered by physical activity or heavy use of the knee (such as playing sports, climbing stairs or walking long distances)
  • Swelling and tenderness, especially around the affected joint
  • Weakness in the affected joint that can sometimes feel as though the knee is “giving out”
  • Joint popping and locking, causing it to pop or stick in one position
  • Decreased range of mobility and motion, such as being unable to straighten the leg completely

The OrthoCARE Treatment Approach

It is important to seek the attention of an experienced orthopedic physician if you suspect you may be suffering from osteochondritis dissecans of the knee. If left untreated, this condition will likely become increasingly severe and can even lead to osteoarthritis. At OrthoCARE Institute, we generally recommend a combination of conservative treatments first to restore regular function to the affected joint and relieve pain and swelling.

Some of these treatments may include:

  • Rest and limited activity
  • Focused, strength-building exercises and physical therapy
  • Knee immobilization
  • Anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications

In the event that conservative treatments are unsuccessful, your condition is deemed severe or the affected fragments of bone and cartilage are fully displaced, surgery may be recommended. Surgical intervention will depend on the severity of your osteochondritis dissecans of the knee, the size of the affected area and the age of the patient.

To get in touch with one of our experienced orthopedic surgeons or to schedule a consultation for yourself or your child, please call OrthoCARE Institute directly at 972-255-5588 or by filling out the form on our Contact Us page. We look forward to helping you recover, so that you can return to the activities you love!

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