Osteochondrosis is a group of disorders that hinders bone growth in children and adolescents. It is caused due to impaired blood flow to the joints resulting in localised tissue death (necrosis), followed by the complete regeneration of healthy bone tissue. It mostly affects children and teenagers whose bones are still developing and results in intense pain and disability. Also Read: Osteochondritis Dissecans: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

It is a wear-related change occurring in the intervertebral disc and adjacent bone. The intervertebral disc in the spine is compressed due to overstrain, when the condition progress, in the long run, the intervertebral disc can no longer regenerate and stay in the compressed position. As the pressure increases, osseous outgrowths leading to intense pain and drastically restrict the movement of the spine.

In children during the time of rapid bone growth and development, the blood supply to the growing ends of the bones is hindered resulting in necrotic bone, generally near joints. As the bones are normally undergoing a continuous rebuilding process in children’s, the necrotic areas get restored over a period of time. Also Read: World Arthritis Day: Simple And Effective Tips To Manage Joint Pain

Types Of Osteochondrosis

It generally affects different parts of the body and grouped into three types based on the region where they develop which includes articular, physeal or nonarticular.

Articular Disease

Articular disease affects the joint areas including hip, elbow, toe and the foot. The most common articular disease include Legg-calve Perthes disease which develops at the hip joint, Panner‘s disease affects the elbow, Freiberg’s disease affects the second toe and Kohler disease which affects the foot. These conditions are most common in adolescence, however, it may be observed in individuals from 8 to 77 years.

Physeal Disease

Physeal osteochondrosis is known as Scheuermann’s diseases or juvenile kyphosis which affects the intervertebral joints of the spinal column, situated between the bones of the spine. It is most common among children between 13 to 16 years of age.

Nonarticular Disease

This type generally affects any part of the skeleton and the most common nonarticular disease is Osgood-Schlatter disease that affects tibia (larger bone of the leg between the knee and ankle). This condition is the causative factor for knee and leg pain in physically active teens.

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a form of osteochondrosis where free pieces of bone fragments form in a joint. The most common site is the knee and sometimes it is linked with some sort of past trauma to the joint. It is common among people between the ages of 10-20 years. In about 40% of the cases, the same joint on both sides of the body is affected.


There is no single known cause for this disorder. Some of the common triggering factors include stress to the bone, lack of blood supply to the affected area and trauma. Osteochondrosis can also develop as a result of intense athletic activity and sports injuries. It mostly affects children and teenagers and more common among boys who engage in sports activities.


  • Swelling in the joints as in the case of tenosynovitis
  • Joint tenderness
  • Joint cracking
  • Joint locking
  • Weakness in the affected limb
  • Joint stiffness
  • Inability to completely stretch the affected limb 

Diagnosis And Treatment 

Doctors can easily diagnose the condition by doing an X-ray of the affected limb.

There are several modes of treatments available for osteochondrosis which include:

The doctor may often recommend the patient to take complete rest, especially resting the affected area where there is extreme pain.

Brace or cast support is suggested to improve mobility.

Exercises and stretches are recommended to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the affected joint.

In very rare cases, surgery might be required to remove bone fragments that are causing pain.