What is osteochondritis dissecans? My 12-year old daughter has been diagnosed with this condition.

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is the separation of cartilage from bone in a joint. Usually, this occurs in children where the ends of bones aren’t completely formed yet. Athletes such as gymnasts and baseball pitchers seem at risk.

OCD is uncommon, but overuse injuries has put it on the rise. It occurs most often at the knee, elbow, or ankle. Continued microtrauma from overuse can tear the cartilage even more. Then, a loose fragment may occur in the joint. This causes painful swelling and loss of motion. The patient may describe the joint as “locking up.”

Children under the age of 12 seem to do well with rest. Older children may need surgery. Anyone with cartilage fragments will need surgery to remove the loose tissue. Early surgery is advised before continued trauma causes more damage.