Osteochondral and Chondral Defects

Osteochondral and Chondral Defects: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Are you experiencing pain or discomfort in any of your joints? You could be dealing with a common type of injury known as osteochondral and/or chondral defects. When we talk about joint injuries, these two terms are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct definitions which separate them from one another. 

Read on to learn more about osteochondral and chondral defects, how they differ, their causes, symptoms, and potential treatments!

At OrthoNeuro, our knee specialists tailor treatment plans for several knee conditions. Contact us today to see how we can help. You can find us at multiple locations throughout Columbus, Ohio.

What Are Osteochondral and Chondral Defects of the Knee?

A chondral defect refers to damage of the articular cartilage in a focal area. Articular cartilage is what covers the ends of bones and prevents bone-on-bone contact. Articular cartilage defects are most common in the knee joint.

There is a calcified cartilage layer that transitions from the cartilage to the bone. When the cartilage defect also affects the underlying bone, it is referred to as an osteochondral defect.

What Causes Osteochondral and Chondral Defects of the Knee?

Osteochondral and chondral defects of the knee can be caused either by acute traumatic knee injury or an underlying bone disorder.

An articular cartilage injury can occur at the same time as a ligament injury. For example, if you were to rupture your anterior cruciate ligament, the tibia (shin bone) can slide forward and cause articular cartilage damage on the femoral (thigh) bone.

Is OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans) the Same Thing as an Osteochondral Defect?

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) lesions occur when the bone dies under normal cartilage. Over time, the articular cartilage detaches from the bone or collapses because the underlying bone becomes soft. Therefore, this condition is a type of osteochondral defect because it affects both the cartilage and bone.

OCD lesions are thought to be caused by micro-traumas to the knee before you are born. Therefore, OCD lesions are usually present at birth. Despite this, the symptoms would normally appear during the adolescent years or during your 20’s.

These are not the only types of osteochondral defects. There are other types of osteochondral lesions that can damage the articular cartilage and affect the underlying bone.

What Are the Symptoms of an Osteochondral Defect?

  • Pain during weight-bearing activities
  • Swelling in the knee
  • Locking or catching sensation in the knee
  • Instability in your knee joint
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Tenderness that can be felt in the center of the knee

Osteochondral Defect Treatment

Treatments for articular cartilage injuries and other types of osteochondral defects include non-surgical and surgical treatments.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Conservative treatment aims to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint. The following treatments may be used to achieve this:

  • Rest
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Modifying activity
  • Physical therapy

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatments are designed to stop mechanical symptoms and others to repair articular cartilage damage. These include the following:

  • Chondroplasty: This involves the removal of damaged or loose cartilage fragments floating in the knee.
  • Microfracture: This is a technique for treating isolated cartilage defects and is suitable for younger patients. It involves making tiny incisions to stimulate cartilage growth.
  • Autograft Mosaicplasty: Osteochondral plugs are taken from non-weight-bearing areas and grafted in the affected area of the knee.
  • Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation: The procedure is similar to autograft mosaicplasty.
  • MACI – Matrix Associated Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation: This involves transplanting cartilage cells on a collagen membrane to the affected area. The covering will then capture bone marrow cells and stem cells to stimulate cartilage growth.
  • Particulate Juvenile Articular Cartilage: Fresh pieces of cartilage are used that contain live cells within their native extracellular matrix. They are then glued in the necessary place.
  • Stem Cell Injections: Stem cells may be used to help to repair cartilage.

Book Your Appointment Today

If you’re concerned about osteochondral or chondral defects affecting your knee, don’t hesitate to reach out to OrthoNeuro. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing personalized care and effective treatments to help you regain your mobility and quality of life.

Book an appointment to learn more about our comprehensive orthopedic services at OrthoNeuro. With multiple locations in Columbus, OH, we’re your trusted partner for expert orthopedic care. Contact us today!

 

Medically reviewed by B. Rodney Comisar, MD, FAAOS

Knee Specialists

IF YOU HAVE A SEVERE KNEE INJURY OR CHRONIC KNEE PAIN THAT REDUCES YOUR MOBILITY OR QUALITY OF LIFE, CONTACT ORTHONEURO TO SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION. OUR EXPERT ORTHOPEDIC SURGEONS ARE ON HAND TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT YOUR KNEE PROBLEM.

“Meniscus repair six months ago. Surgery went smoothly. Dr. set realistic expectations that have been met.
Great team to work with“
Patient