If the broken fragment does not get jammed between the moving parts of a joint, there may not be any symptoms at all. Surgical repair is required otherwise. Loosened fragments are sometimes referred to as joint mice.
The condition is relatively rare; an estimated incidence is about 15 to 30 cases per 100,000 persons per year. However, it is an important cause of joint pain in physically active adolescents.
The exact cause of osteochondritis dissecans is often unknown. Mild recurrent injuries, growth disturbances are some of the theories. Though the name “osteochondritis” means inflammation, microscopic studies suggest otherwise. Suggested causes for the condition include:
► Repetitive trauma
► Restriction or loss of blood flow
► Hereditary factors
► Endocrine factors
► Anomalies in bone growth
► Metabolic abnormalities (especially imbalances in calcium and phosphorous levels)
Repeated trauma (multiple events of minor injuries, often unrecognised) may damage the end of the affected bone compromising its blood supply.
Repeated physical trauma is thought to be a strong risk factor for the development of osteochondritis dissecans. Young athletes exposed to repeated strain injuries are reported to have a higher incidence. Sports like Gymnastics, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, football, tennis, squash, baseball and weight lifting may put participants at higher risk of developing the condition.
Age: People between the ages of 10 and 20 are most commonly affected by osteochondritis dissecans
Sex: Male sex is twice or thrice more likely to develop the condition than female sex.
Certain case reports also suggest genetic predisposition. Some people may have a greater tendency to develop osteochondritis dissecans by virtue of their genetic makeup.
Joints affected by osteochondritis are more liable to develop osteoarthritis, a condition in which the cartilage wears off (cartilage is a tough elastic tissue).
Latest Publications and Research on Osteochondritis DissecansElbow Arthroscopic Surgery Update for Sports Medicine Conditions. - Published by PubMed
Fresh-stored osteochondral allografts for the treatment of femoral head defects: surgical technique and preliminary results. - Published by PubMed
Indications and limitations of osteochondral autologous transplantation in osteochondritis dissecans of the talus. - Published by PubMed
Outcomes of osteochondral allograft transplantation in the knee. - Published by PubMed
Elbow injuries in the young athlete-an orthopedic perspective. - Published by PubMed