Osteochondritis Dissecans | Symptoms and Causes

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What are the symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans?

The first sign of an osteochondritis dissecans injury may be a “popping” sensation in the injured joint. Most people can still use the injured joint, and many athletes keep playing. When symptoms of inflammation set in, the knee or elbow feels painful and tight. Your child may also have:

  • soreness or tenderness at the joint line
  • swelling or stiffness
  • difficulty straightening the joint fully
  • feeling like the joint is locking, “catching” or “giving way”
  • collection of fluid (“water on the knee”)

The signs and symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans can resemble those of other joint injuries. So it’s important that your child see a doctor for a diagnosis.

What causes osteochondritis dissecans?

Young athletes involved in high-impact sports can sustain an osteochondritis dissecans injury from repetitive motions that stress the joint. Typical sports that can put athletes at risk for osteochondritis dissecans of the knee are football, basketball, gymnastics, soccer and lacrosse. Sports that can increase the risk of osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow are squash, tennis, baseball and weight-lifting.

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