What is the treatment for an osteochondral injury or osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)?
A non-surgical approach is usually geared toward children and adolescents who are skeletally immature. It is possible for young children to heal an OCD as their bones develop more fully. Children tend to respond better than an older population to a period of immobilization. An average recovery is two to four months. Bracing the injury may alleviate pain, but in adults surgery may be required. Other non-surgical treatments include PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation), NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, certain exercises and physical therapy to improve flexibility and strength.
Surgery may be required if non-surgical methods do not improve pain and swelling due to an osteochondral lesion. If surgery is necessary, due to the lesion’s separation from the surrounding bone and cartilage, the loose portion of the bone and cartilage will be removed and/or repaired. Surgery may also be required for large lesions measuring one centimeter in diameter or greater. Dr. Haytmanek typically prescribes a period of non-weight bearing after surgery. This limits stress on the repair site for a certain period of time and promotes healing. The patient may need crutches for about six weeks to avoid bearing weight on the injured ankle. Physical therapy and strength training for about six weeks will need to be completed to ensure proper recovery. The patient may return to athletics after a four-to-six-month period of time.