Joint Condition Causing Pain and Limited Mobility

Osteochondral dissecans is a joint condition that happens when the bone underlying the joint surface cartilage doesn’t have enough blood supply. This lack of blood flow causes the section of bone to die. This can sometimes cause pain and in some cases can even break loose, and cause pain and locking of the joint. An osteochondral fracture can cause similar symptoms, but is an acute injury from trauma.

Osteochondritis dissecans can affect any joint but is most common in the knees. The cause of this joint condition is unknown. For children and teens that are still growing, the injury might heal itself. For older teens, adults and patients with detached bone fragments, surgery might be necessary to help you regain full joint mobility.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Patients with osteochondral dissecans can experience the following symptoms:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Joint stiffness
  • Limited flexibility
  • Pain
  • Soreness
  • Swelling
  • Weakness

Our team of orthopaedic specialists at Penn State Health will evaluate your injured joint for areas of pain and swelling. In some cases, our experts might be able to feel a joint fragment within the joint. To confirm your diagnosis, your physician will order imaging like X-ray, computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get a comprehensive look inside of your joint.

If you are diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans, initial treatment might include using crutches, resting the joint and utilizing physical therapy. If you have a loose bone fragment, surgical recommendation is more likely. If the bone fragment is not loose and you are experiencing any relief with conservative treatment options, surgery to address the lesion may also be an option.

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Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute

Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

Confidence in Treatment Through Education

We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

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