Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a condition that develops in joints, most often in children and adolescents. It most commonly affects the knee, ankle, and elbow, but it can also occur in other joints. When OCD occurs, a small segment of bone begins to separate from its surrounding region due to lack of blood supply. As a result, the small piece of bone and cartilage begin to crack and loosen resulting in a lesion.
If caught early, patients can often heal with conservative treatment including 2-4 months of rest and crutches. However, if nonsurgical treatment fails, or the lesion is large, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery is generally followed by a long recovery including a non-weight-bearing protocol, and physical therapy. Gradual return to sports may be possible 4-5 months after surgery.
Although it is not known exactly what causes osteochondritis dissecans, doctors think it is probably related to overuse and repetitive trauma, particularly in childhood sports.