Osteochondritis dissecans or OCD is a type of joint condition in which the bone underneath the articular cartilage dies due to a lack of blood. This leads to separation of the bone and cartilage from the surrounding joint causing pain and inflammation.

Osteochondritis is commonly seen in children and adolescents, who are active in sports. It mostly affects the joints of the knee, but can also happen in the elbow, ankle and other joints. This condition mostly affects the subchondral bone when there is an absence of blood supply to the surrounding region causing a process called avascular necrosis and ultimately leading to the death of the bone. Hence, the bone and cartilage develop cracks allowing them to detach themselves from the joints and move freely causing agony and additional impairment.


There is no exact cause of OCD, but lack of blood supply to the bones and cartilage can arise due to repetitive trauma or stress over a long period of time or sudden jerks or injury if one is overactive during sports. If not treated on time, OCD can eventually impair movement and lead to osteoarthritis in the joints. Also Read: Osteoarthritis not age-related, can affect young adults too


The usual signs and symptoms mostly depend upon the joints that get affected which includes:

  • Pain and inflammation
  • Joint Weakness
  • Swelling and soreness
  • Locking and popping joints
  • Reduced range of movement
  • Limping
  • Stiffness in the joints as in the case of arthritis

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you notice any kind of joint pain or your child portrays any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is strictly advocated to visit a doctor at the earliest. The orthopaedic doctor usually diagnoses the condition by a thorough physical check-up followed by an X-ray, MRI or Scan to analyse the condition of the bone to see whether the bone is damaged partly or has completely dislodged itself from the surrounding joint.

Treatment options for OCD mostly involve reducing pain and inflammation and restoring the normal functioning of the joints to ease movement.

In certain cases, if OCD has occurred in a child, there are chances of the affected bone and cartilage to heal on its own since the kids are still growing. In that case, the doctor may ask for complete bed rest to allow the joints to heal followed by a physical therapy session. Also Read: 5 Signs That It’s Time To See A Physio

But OCD in young adults and adolescents can be more severe causing total detachment of the bone from the joints and hence the doctor may perform surgery to restore complete movement.