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Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

Knee joint pain can be caused by a number of different reasons. The condition known as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) occurs when small fragments of bone come away from your knee join. It can progress fairly quickly, causing degeneration in your knee.

Detailed Overview

What causes the condition?

At the moment, nobody knows exactly what causes it, but it is believed to result from a previous injury or trauma, or from an insufficient blood supply. It is quite common among teenagers, though does often abate later in life. The symptoms cause knee pain, and a good knee support can help to alleviate this.


The knee pain tends to be localised in OCD, with swelling sometimes also present. Occasionally the knee will lock or give way. In severe cases certain motions and activity can exacerbate the knee pain, such as twisting movements, and some sufferers report a clunking sound when they straighten or bend their knee.

Your doctor should refer you for an x-ray or MRI scan which can help to give an effective diagnosis and also establish how back the fragmenting of the bone is. This will also help to determine the most appropriate type of treatment.


Some types of OCD knee require surgery, whereby the joint is restored and any loose fragments are removed. After surgery you may still experience some knee pain. This can be lessened by applying ice to the area - wrapped in a towel - for 20 minutes at a time every few hours. You will also need a programme of rehabilitation, which your surgeon can recommend. You will need to follow these to the letter, as certain weight-bearing exercises will be forbidden for a while. The usual regime is to carry out some non-weight bearing exercises in a swimming pool.

Other types of OCD knee can be left to heal themselves. This is usually appropriate for younger patients, as most adults will need surgery. In these cases, the patient will need to follow a recommended programme of recovery, which might mean making certain adjustments to their lifestyle and sporting activity for several weeks.

After surgery or recovery it is always a good idea to ease gently back into your previous activities, allowing your body the time it needs to acclimatise to the necessary motion once again. Follow your doctor's advice about when to return to exercise and what type of activities to avoid for a while. There are numerous videos online of how the surgical procedure is performed.

With any type of knee joint pain a doctor or physiotherapist will often recommend patients wear a knee support as this can help to strengthen and protect the joint, which in turn can aid the healing process. It can also be useful to wear as a preventative measure - although no specific prevention tips are proven for OCD a support can make you feel more secure when exercising or playing sport.