Osteochondritis Dissecans Specialist

Maguire & Early Orthopedics

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons located in Santa Barbara, CA & Pismo Beach, CA

Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition that affects children's joints and can cause pain, swelling, and locking up in severe cases. If your child has symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans, Maguire & Early Orthopedics can help. Experienced pediatric orthopedic specialists Michael Maguire, MD, and Sean Early, MD, have offices in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach, California, where they provide expert treatment, including surgery, for children with osteochondritis dissecans. For prompt and effective solutions to your child's symptoms, call Maguire & Early Orthopedics or book an appointment online today.

Osteochondritis Dissecans Q & A

What is osteochondritis dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) affects the joints, typically of children and adolescents. An inadequate blood supply to the affected joint causes a small section of bone to separate from the surrounding tissues. The bone and the cartilage covering it then loosen and crack.

Osteochondritis dissecans is most likely to develop in your child's knee, elbow, or ankle, although it may occur in other joints. In most cases, the disease develops in one joint but may affect several in some children.

Younger children who are still growing frequently heal without treatment, but osteochondritis dissecans can have more severe effects in older children and young adults. In fully grown joints, the bone and cartilage may separate and float around inside the affected joint.

What symptoms does osteochondritis dissecans cause?

Osteochondritis dissecans causes pain and swelling in the joints, particularly during or after physical activity. As the condition worsens, the joint may start catching or locking.

It's not clear precisely what affects the blood supply in a joint and leads to osteochondritis dissecans. However, it's likely that repetitive stress or trauma involving the bone is the trigger.

To confirm a diagnosis of osteochondritis dissecans, the Maguire & Early Orthopedics team performs an exam and looks at X-rays of your child's joints. They might also conduct an MRI or ultrasound scan to assess the cartilage damage.

How is osteochondritis dissecans treated?

Osteochondritis dissecans usually heals without treatment in growing children, who should rest and avoid vigorous activities until the tissues mend.

If your child's symptoms aren't improving, your provider at Maguire & Early Orthopedics might recommend they use crutches or wear a splint or cast for a short while. Most children recover from osteochondritis dissecans within four months with no permanent effects.

Would my child need surgery for osteochondritis dissecans?

Your child might benefit from surgery for osteochondritis dissecans if their symptoms aren't improving after receiving non-surgical treatment. They may also require surgery if the bone separates and moves around or the affected area is particularly large.

There are several ways to approach surgery for osteochondritis dissecans. One method is to make drill holes in the bone to encourage the development of new blood vessels. Another is to hold the bone in place with pins and screws, or your provider may suggest replacing the affected tissues with a graft.

Your child needs to use crutches for about six weeks following osteochondritis dissecans surgery and undergo 2-4 months of physical therapy. They may gradually return to playing sports after 4-5 months.

If your child has symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans, call the Maguire & Early Orthopedics office closest to you today or book an appointment online.