Osteochondrosis disease is a painful swelling of the bump on the front of the upper
tibia (lower leg bone) in an area called the anterior tibial tubercle.
Information about of Osteochondrosis
To understand what's going on in osteochondrosis, you need to understand a bit about
how bones grow. Bones grow by initially forming a cartilage template, onto which calcium
is deposited to form bone, (this process is called "ossification", and when the
cartilage has been turned into bone it is "ossified"). Osteochondrosis is an
abnormality in this normal development of bones, and generally affects the joints. It
resembles, but is distinct from hip dysplasia in many respects, in that it too is a
developmental disorder of cartilage-bone formation. The ends of a bone grow in two places.
Firstly, at the epiphyseal plate. This is a cartilaginous region of the bone, the location
of the greatest part of growth. Secondly, the cartilage which overlies the end of the
bone, at the joint, also grows, and becomes ossified at the junction of bone and
cartilage. You can see these areas of growth on this picture:
There are two main forms of osteochondrosis. If the problem occurs at the epiphyseal
plate, then the overlying bone will not join properly to the main shaft of the bone. If
the problem occurs at the joint surface, then a thickened area of cartilage develops which
is only loosely attached to the underlying bone. This can shear, resulting in the
formation of a flap. This is known as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
Causes of Osteochondrosis
Many theories have been advanced to account for osteochondrosis, but none has proven
fully satisfactory. Stress and ischemia (reduced blood supply) are two of the most
commonly mentioned factors. Athletic young children are often affected when they
overstress their developing limbs with a particular repetitive motion. Many cases are
idiopathic, meaning that no specific cause is known.
The most common symptom for most types of osteochondrosis is simply pain at the
affected joint, especially when pressure is applied. Locking of a joint or limited range
of motion at a joint can also occur.
Scheuermann's disease can lead to serious kyphosis (hunchback condition) due to erosion
of the vertebral bodies. Usually, however, the kyphosis is mild, causing no further
symptoms and requiring no special treatment.
Diagnosis of Osteochondrosis
A doctor can make a diagnosis during a physical examination. A
bone X-ray may be normal, may show soft tissue swelling, or may demonstrate fragmentation
of the the tibial tubercle.
Treatment of Osteochondrosis
Initial treatment includes rest, ice, and nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS, for example ibuprofen). In many cases, the condition
will disappear with rest, pain medication, and the reduction of sports or exercise.
In the rare case where symptoms do not resolve, the affected leg may be immobilized by
a cast or brace until healing takes place. This typically takes 6 to 8 weeks. Crutches can
be used for walking to keep weight off the affected leg.
Rarely, surgery may be needed if the initial treatment fails.