Osteochondral knee fracture

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An osteochondral knee fracture involves tearing of the cartilage that covers the end of bone inside a joint. This commonly occurs in the knee joint particularly with other injuries such as ACL tears.

This type of fracture is oftentimes called as articular cartilage injuries. The difference is that an osteochondral knee fracture involves a fractured bone. Sometimes, the torn cartilage also contains a bone fragment. These fragments tend to vary in size and depth where the larger ones can cause more issues.

The fractures frequently occur among children and adolescents since their bones are softer and likely to be damaged. In most cases, it is due to a violent twisting motion to the knee, especially while bearing weight. The twisting motion can occur from direct trauma such as a tackle or from a fall.

What are the indications?

Osteochondral knee fracture
Locking or instability of the knee.

An individual with osteochondral knee fracture has the following symptoms:

  • Immediate pain at the time of injury
  • Rapid swelling
  • Pain worsens when bearing weight
  • Locking or instability of the knee

Once a fracture is suspected, an X-ray is taken to confirm a diagnosis. Remember that the fragments are not always clear on the results. Due to this, a CT scan or MRI are also taken.

Management of an osteochondral knee fracture

The treatment for the injury is based on the its severity.

  • For grade I and II injuries, physical therapy and rehabilitation are part of the treatment. A cast is used to immobilize the joint in the previous years, but it is no longer common nowadays.
  • As for severe injuries, such as grade III and IV, arthroscopic surgery is required to remove or fix the damaged fragment. A rehabilitation program must be started after to restore full strength, balance and mobility.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on an osteochondral knee fracture is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage knee injuries by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.

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