Osteochondritis dissecans refers to a condition which results in a loss of blood supply or death to a part of the cartilage within the elbow joint. The exact cause of osteochondritis dissecans is still not known. It may be associated with repetitive trauma that damage the bone and cartilage or even due to a genetic component that could make some people more vulnerable to develop this condition. Osteochondritis is commonly found in adolescents from 10-18 years of age who are actively involved in high-impact sports, such as gymnastics, tennis, baseball and weight-lifting.
- Pain, especially when completely bending or straightening the elbow
- Elbow catching and locking when bending
- Popping or cracking noise with elbow movement
- Swelling, tenderness and inflammation in the elbow
- Difficulty in moving the elbow
- Reduced range of motion in the elbow
Diagnosis: Osteochondritis dissecans may be diagnosed through physical examination of the elbow and conducting imaging tests. An X-ray or MRI Scan would help to determine the location and extent of cartilage damage. Treatment options: Non-surgical Treatment Resting the elbow Physical therapy and activities Putting a splint or brace Cortisone injection Surgical Treatment Options Based on the extent of injury and the size and location of the cartilage involved, the fragment may be removed from the elbow, reattached with a screw or stitches, or treated by drilling into the bone in order to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. These surgeries can generally be done arthroscopically. The patient is required to wear brace for a few weeks after surgery so as to provide considerable comfort and support and to allow ample healing time. In certain cases, physical therapy becomes necessary for ensuring the best recovery.