Expert Care for Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) Lesions

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) lesions can cause mild to severe pain in the ankle and the foot. If not treated properly, this overuse condition can lead to more painful osteoarthritis and limited joint function. Therefore, it is important to see a specialist who has experience in treating this foot and ankle condition.

The orthopedic doctors at University Hospitals are highly trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating OCD lesions, including those in athletes of all skill levels. With expertise in treating the most elite athletes, our specialized care teams will design a treatment plan that will eliminate the discomfort and instability of OCD lesions and get you back in the game.


Understanding OCD Lesions

The ankle or foot discomfort from OCD lesions can be mistaken as an sprained ankle, or “turf toe” if pain involves the big toe. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, these lesions can lead to long-term chronic ankle pain, instability and even osteoarthritis.

Lesions in the ankle are often caused when the bone that makes up the bottom part of the ankle, called the talus, has been fractured or the blood supply to the bone has been damaged after an injury. Sometimes a divot or pothole has been made in the cartilage due to impact from the injury. The big-toe joint, called the metatarsophalangeal joint, can also have OCD lesions due to a sprain of that joint.

Regardless of the cause, our UH foot and ankle orthopedic specialists use advanced diagnostic imaging tests to pinpoint the location of the OCD lesion and form a treatment plan to get your foot or ankle back to normal. Those imaging tests may include an X-ray, which can determine if there was a fracture. More likely, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan will be performed to determine the precise location and size of the lesion.


Minimally Invasive Surgical Options

Some OCD lesions can be repaired with rest, immobilization and physical therapy alone, depending on damage to the talus or joint. In other cases, especially the more complex injuries, surgery may be required. University Hospitals’ nationally recognized orthopedic surgeons are highly skilled and experienced in removing lesions, repairing the pothole in the cartilage surface and restoring the blood supply to promote healing. Our foot and ankle orthopedic surgical specialists use minimally invasive surgical procedures and arthroscopic tools to repair damage to the ankle or foot joints. Our advanced procedures include:

  • Removing bone chips and loose cartilage so the bone can heal.
  • Drilling into the ankle or foot bone with a tiny, needle-like device to improve blood flow and repair the bone.
  • Grafting new bone and cartilage to replace damaged tissues.

Individualized Rehabilitation Program

With or without surgery, patients recovering from OCD lesions will usually require a rehabilitation program after a significant rest period. Rehabilitation could include walking or running on a specialized AlterG treadmill that uses anti-gravity technology to keep weight off the injured ankle or foot. Patients may also be video recorded with DartFish technology while they are walking or running so the care team can monitor your progress.

Our University Hospitals orthopedic team also includes a dedicated orthotics specialist who can modify shoes, or athletic gear such as boots or skates, to prevent future OCD lesions once you are active again.


Learn More about OCD Lesion Treatment

If you are suffering from ankle or foot pain, including injuries such as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) lesions, come see one of our foot and ankle orthopedic specialists. We’ll help you heal and reduce the risk of more extensive injury. Contact one of our foot and ankle specialists at University Hospitals, at any of our convenient locations.