Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Elbow

Overview

Osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow typically affects young athletes, especially those involved in throwing sports or gymnastics. It occurs when a portion of bone or its overlying articular cartilage is cut off from the blood supply, creating a "dead" area of bone and cartilage. It commonly affects the capitellum, where the humerus meets the radius.

Causes

Osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow can result from repeated stress of the joint. Young baseball pitchers are particularly susceptible. It may also result from an arterial blockage or from genetic factors. The exact cause is unknown.

Symptoms

Osteochondritis dissecans can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, swelling, weakness, loss of motion, and clicking or locking of the joint.

Treatment

Treatment options include rest, immobilization of the joint with a cast or brace, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. Surgery may be necessary if the dead area of bone and cartilage separates from the normal bone and is floating freely within the joint, or if normal symptoms are not relieved by rest and therapy.

© 2008 Swarm Interactive, Inc.