If there is a loss of cartilage between the two bones of a joint, they rub together and cause pain and inflammation. Cartilage is the cushioning support that is found at the end of bones and what holds the bones together. Cartilage loss can happen in any of the body’s joints but commonly in the ankle or knee. This loss of cartilage can not only cause pain but also damage to the affected joint.
If a piece of the bone separates from the end of the bone that forms a joint, it is called osteochondritis dissecans. This condition is due to the lack of blood supply to the affected area. When this happens, the piece of bone dies and the cartilage in between the joints cracks and can break loose. Osteochondritis dissecans can be caused by genetics or from a trauma to the joint such as from a sports injury.
Loss of Cartilage Symptoms
A loss of cartilage causes discomfort in the affected area and can be felt when doing activities such as walking or climbing stairs. Some people feel pain when placing weight on the joint.
Symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans include:
- Locking of the affected joint
- Change in the joint’s range of motion
- Feeling as though the joint is giving away
Diagnosing Cartilage Loss
To diagnose a loss of cartilage or osteochondritis dissecans, your podiatrist will examine the affected area. He may order imaging tests such as an MRI or X-ray to confirm the condition.
Since every patient’s condition is different, your podiatrist will develop a treatment plan based on the severity of your issue. Some options for treatment include:
- Brace or cast
- Activity modification or restriction
Often when this condition occurs in children who are still growing, it can heal on its own. For those who find nonsurgical treatment is not an effective option, surgery may be recommended. Surgery can be done to:
- Secure the cartilage and bone together with pins and screws
- Replace detached bone and cartilage with a graft
- Make a hole into the bone and cartilage to create a path for new blood supply to heal the bone
Do You Need a Caring Podiatrist?
If you are experiencing pain in the joints or your ankles, Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can help. Our office can offer a free initial consultation and create a customized plan to address your pain and get you back on your feet as soon as possible. To set up an appointment, fill out our convenient contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET.