Osteochondritis dissecans and osteochondritis juvenilis are two conditions related to arthritis that affect young people. Although the symptoms of arthritis are generally associated with the older population, young people can also suffer from many of the symptoms associated with this often-painful condition. These conditions tend to be degenerative in nature, and if not treated they can cause rapid disintegration of the joints and muscles. Here is a quick overview of these two conditions.
Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition in which degeneration of the bone and cartilage causes fragments of these to become loosened and eventually break away from the rest of the bone. Osteochondritis dissecans is a relatively rare disorder that tends to set in during adolescence. The most commonly affected area is the knee. What causes osteochondritis dissecans? The direct cause remains a mystery, but it appears to be related to injuries of the small blood vessels that surround the joint. Injury to these blood vessels causes part of the joint surface to die and become fragmented from the rest of the bone. In some cases, these small bone and cartilage pieces may reattach themselves to the bone on their own. However, in most cases, these small pieces will float freely around the joint. The symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans are similar to other form of arthritis. The patient may feel pain and experience swelling around the affected joint. One of the most identifying hallmarks is the tendency of the joint to become locked. This happens when one of the floating pieces of cartilage or bone becomes caught in the joint. In many cases, the lose pieces of bone and cartilage may still be partially attached to the rest of the joint. In these cases, the use of a cast may be prescribed to promote reattachment and healing. In more serious cases where the pieces have become completely separated and are floating freely, an arthroscopy may be recommend. This will help clear out the affected area.
Another arthritis-related condition that appears at a young age is osteochondritis juvenilis. This is a disorder wherein the growth section of a bone becomes severely inflamed. Doctors do not know exactly what causes osteochondritis juvenilis to develop in some patients, but some evidence suggests that it may be caused by a disruption in the blood supply to the affected area. When blood supply is cut off, the bone begins to die. Almost any bone can be affected with osteochondritis juvenilis, but it is most commonly detected in the femur, the bones of the wrists and feet, and the vertebrae. Children or adolescents afflicted with osteochondritis juvenilis may experience increased pain and tenderness around the affected areas. They may feel pain and inflammation, and experience loss of mobility in the afflicted joint. In some cases, the bone may become increasingly soft, causing joint deformity. Treatment of osteochondritis may include the use of a brace or cast that immobilizes the affected area to prevent deformity. In more serious cases, surgical intervention may be necessary in order to take excessive pressure off the affected bone.