Your knee joint has the important job of helping you move. When it feels weak and unstable, that makes moving pretty tough. Every day tasks become difficult, not to mention any activity that requires running or jumping. Let’s face it, if your knee is hurting, so is your lifestyle.
Osteochondritis is a conditon that typically effects your knee joint. It occurs when a piece of cartilage attached to a thin layer of bone becomes loose. Although it can happen in other joints in your body, like the ankle, it is most commonly found in the knee. Here are some symptoms, causes, and risk factors you should know about the condition.
Signs and Symptoms
If you are experiencing pain when moving your legs, swelling and tenderness around your knee, joint weakness, a decreased range-of-motion, or joint popping and locking, you might have osteochondritis. Since these are also symptoms of bone fractures, it’s important you seek medical help to get an accurate diagnosis. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms at all and the cartilage and bone stay close enough to eventually heal on their own.
Causes for this condition are largely unknown, however it is believed that lack of blood flow to the effected bone may play a part, and possibly repetitive slight traumas as a result of playing sports.
If you are a male between the ages of 10 and 20 and participate in sports that involve jumping, throwing, or fast movements, you are likely susceptible.
Determining the Diagnosis
To identify if a loose cartilage is present, an MRI, X-Ray, or CT scan will need to be administered to get a better look at the injury. This will also indicate how far the cartilage has moved from its original position. Once the injury has been confirmed, and its extent determined, treatment methods can then be discussed.
The first treatment option is usually rest. Sometimes taking weight off of the joint or immobilizing it allows the joint to heal on its own. After you’ve given it time to heal, physical therapy can be utilized as well. Stretches and strengthening exercises increase range-of-motion and help with the overall healing process.
Sometimes the injury is so severe that surgery is needed. The surgery will either detach the fragments or reattach them, depending on what is most beneficial in the particular situation. Either way, only a small incision is typically made, and the scars are minimal. The newest form of surgery includes using your own bone marrow to rebuild around the joint. This will help fill in the space where the bone fragment was removed.
If you are at risk of osteochondritis, learning the proper techniques when playing sports is critical. Be sure to warm up beforehand, and stretch afterward. Strengthening exercises are always helpful in staving off injuries. Know the symptoms and seek help if you spot any.
Contact Victoria Melhuish, DPM at Sierra Foot & Ankle in Carson City, Nevada. We can help keep your knees healthy and strong, so you can do the things that make you happy. To schedule an appointment call (775) 783-8037.