Osteochondral Injury

Causes  |  Symptoms  |  Treatment Options

What Is an Osteochondral Injury?

An osteochondral injury refers to damage of the joint cartilage and the underlying bone. It varies in severity from a depressed area of cartilage and bone to a separation of a piece of the cartilage and bone from the joint surface. 

What Are the Symptoms of an Osteochondral Injury?

The symptoms of an osteochondral injury are pain and swelling in acute injuries. An acute injury is a severe one that occurs suddenly, for example, strains or sprains sustained during a clash with another player during sports. 

During an osteochondral injury, patients may notice that the function of the affected joint is also compromised. If the fragment is loose, the sensation of a mechanical block or locking may be present. As the joint function is compromised, return to sports or even daily activities may be affected in chronic cases.

What Are the Treatment Options Available for an Osteochondral Injury?

When treating an osteochondral injury, our doctors may order an MRI scan to assess the severity of the damage before deciding on a treatment plan.

In mild cases, immobilisation and avoidance of putting a strain on the joint, combined with medication, may allow the injury to heal. More severe cases or those that do not heal with non-invasive treatment will require surgery to prevent deterioration of the injury and long term complications.

Treatment is usually an arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery to stimulate healing of the injury or osteochondral grafting. Keyhole surgeries tend to be less invasive and typically require a reduced recovery period.