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A to Z: Osteochondritis Dissecans

Osteochondritis dissecans (os-tee-o-kon-DRY-tis DIS-uh-kanz), also called OCD, is a joint condition in which a piece of bone and cartilage become unattached, either partially or completely. It’s most commonly seen in the knee, but also can affect the elbow, hip, and ankle.

More to Know

OCD occurs when a bone does not get enough blood supply and dies. This can be due to a blocked blood vessel or trauma to the joint. Stress from repetitive motions and sports injuries are leading causes of the condition.

OCD most often affects teenagers and young adults, and is more common in males than females. It tends to run in families.

Osteochondritis dissecans can be very painful, especially during physical activity. It can cause weakness in the joint or cause it to pop or lock in one position. With OCD, the joint often becomes swollen and tender and mobility is very limited. Some people with OCD won’t feel symptoms because the affected bone and cartilage stay in place.

Rest and anti-inflammatory medications may be all that’s needed to heal the joint. In some cases a brace may be recommended, along with physical therapy. Surgery can greatly improve the condition of someone with severe OCD.

Keep in Mind

Osteoarthritis can be a complication of osteochondritis dissecans if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Early detection is key to a full recovery.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.