Children's Hospital Colorado
Sports Medicine Center

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) and Cartilage Injuries

Kids aren’t just mini adults. In fact, they’re incredibly different. That’s why they need incredibly different care.

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What is osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)?

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a condition in which the bone that supports the cartilage of a joint softens. This softening is caused by an interruption in the blood flow to that portion of bone. If left untreated, this softening can lead to damage of the cartilage in the joint.

What causes osteochondritis dissecans?

No one knows exactly what causes OCD, but it has been associated with specific injuries as well as long-term repetitive impact to the joint.

Cartilage injury is similar to OCD, but it is caused by an acute injury to the cartilage and underlying bone. It can happen in association with ligament injuries, such as tearing of the ACL.

Although any joint's bone and cartilage can be involved, OCD and cartilage injuries most commonly affect the knee, ankle and elbow.

Who gets osteochondritis dissecans?

Anyone can get an OCD or cartilage injury, although children and adolescents involved in sports with running and jumping are more likely to experience these kinds of injuries. Gymnasts and baseball players are especially susceptible to OCDs in the elbow.

As young athletes experience chronic stresses to their knee, ankle or elbow, the combination of repetitive stress, micro-trauma and poor blood supply to the area results in cartilage damage.

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Alison Colbert, PhD

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Stephanie Sharp, PhD

Stephanie Sharp, PhD

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Ryan Ballard, PA

Ryan Ballard, PA

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