Sports Medicine and Exercise Information  

Dr. Allan Mishra | Knee Pain Diagnosis



(Osteochondritis Dissecans is one form of this injury)

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Definition Damage to the smooth surface on the end of bones inside a knee joint. (Femur/Tibia/Patella)

Model and X-ray of a Normal Knee
Details Articular cartilage is the material that covers bone inside a joint. It normally is very smooth. Its function is to help the bones glide easily past each other during motion of the knee. It also protects the underlying bone. Injuries or disease can result in defects or uneven areas in this important surface.

Arthroscopic Picture of Normal Cartilage
Causes Articular cartilage injuries may be caused by a sudden knee injury (acute trauma), osteoarthritis, or less commonly, by a developmental disorder known as osteochondritis dissecans.
Diagnosis An articular cartilage injury is diagnosed by a history of an acute knee injury or by chronic dull ache inside their knee. Physical examination may reveal isolated areas of tenderness around the outside of the knee. X-rays may reveal defects in the bone surface or advanced arthritis. An MRI should clearly demonstrates the extent of damage to the cartilage.

MRI of Osteochondritis Dissecans Lesion

Nonoperative Treatment

  • Phase I: Control of pain and inflammation REST, Icing, Stretching, Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Phase II: Restore strength and function
  • Phase III: Return to work or sports specific activities

If nonoperative treament fails then arthroscopic (minimally invasive) surgery may be required to smooth the cartilage or attempt to repair it. If the damage is severe, however, more advanced techniques like osteochondral transfer, osteotomy or even total knee replacement may be considered.

Cartilage transfer surgery pictures


Avoid overuse and isolated knee extension exercises
Always warm up before playing or training

Consider a complete lower extremity stretching and strengthening program