If a person does not require surgery for osteochondritis dissecans, some at-home and natural treatments may help relieve pain and swelling. However, a person should not attempt to treat it at home without consulting a doctor.

Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition that most often occurs in children and adolescents. It occurs when a small piece of bone does not receive enough blood and begins to separate from its surroundings.

It may heal without surgical intervention in some cases. However, if a person requires surgery to treat osteochondritis dissecans, conservative or at-home treatments may not be effective.

Although some nonsurgical treatment options may help a person heal from osteochondritis dissecans and relieve symptoms, a person should not attempt to treat the condition without consulting a doctor.

This article looks at nonsurgical treatment options for osteochondritis dissecans. It also answers some frequently asked questions.

Crutches that a person can use while recovering naturally from osteochondritis dissecans -2.Share on Pinterest
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A doctor will help individuals determine if surgery is their best treatment option for osteochondritis dissecans. A person’s age is an important factor when making these considerations.

In many cases of juvenile osteochondritis dissecans, lesions from the condition heal on their own. This is because children are still growing and developing. Doctors may advise conservative treatment and monitoring.

In most cases of adult osteochondritis dissecans, surgical treatment is necessary. Surgery can involve:

  • replacing the damaged area with a bone graft
  • drilling into the area to create new pathways for blood vessels
  • securing the lesion in place with screws or pins

Many adults may not be able to effectively treat the condition using nonsurgical or natural options. However, they may be able to use nonsurgical options in combination with surgery to help relieve symptoms and promote healing.

The first line of nonsurgical treatment for osteochondritis dissecans should be to rest the affected area and stop activities that could worsen the condition. These include:

  • sports
  • strenuous exercise
  • running
  • jumping
  • standing for long periods

Research from 2019 has found that restricting activity until symptoms recede may be successful in 81–96% of juvenile cases. Resting can also help relieve symptoms such as pain and inflammation.

A doctor or physical therapist may recommend immobilizing the affected area. This could involve the use of a device such as:

Immobilizing the area or limiting how much it can move can be effective as a nonsurgical treatment or in combination with surgery.

If osteochondritis dissecans affects the knee or ankle, using crutches or a wheelchair can help take the weight off the knee or ankle joint.

This can help prevent the condition from worsening, as the separated piece of bone and the cartilage surrounding it may begin to crack and loosen over time.

A brace or compression sleeve can also help reduce and control the range of motion of a joint. This can help ease symptoms such as pain and swelling or help a person recover after surgery.

A person should work with a physical therapist to determine which exercises are safe and beneficial for osteochondritis dissecans treatment.

Specific exercises and stretches may help restore function to the joint, strengthen the muscles around the area, and improve the range of motion.

As osteochondritis dissecans progresses and causes damage to the cartilage and bone, a person may experience reduced muscle function. A physical therapist may help a person assess their muscle function and develop exercises to strengthen the affected muscles.

Osteochondritis dissecans also affects a person’s range of motion. Specific exercises and stretches may help restore proper functioning to the joints affected by the condition.

Some people with osteochondritis dissecans injuries may find it difficult to treat certain areas with exercise.

A physical therapist may use manual therapy to gently manipulate and stretch joints and muscles to help restore motion, strength, and functionality to the joint.

A person may be able to relieve pain and inflammation with over-the-counter medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Using cold and heat packs to ice and warm the area may also help relieve pain.

Below are answers to some common questions about nonsurgical treatment for OCD.

Can osteochondritis dessicans heal itself?

Osteochondritis dissecans can heal by itself within 2–4 months. However, this is more common in children and young teens. In adults, the condition typically requires surgical intervention.

Does icing help osteochondritis dissecans?

Icing the joint may help to temporarily relieve pain and inflammation. However, it cannot treat the condition.

Adults typically require surgery to treat osteochondritis dissecans, while children and adolescents can often heal with nonsurgical treatment.

Natural treatments, such as rest, immobilization, and movement therapy, may be beneficial for people who do not require surgery and as complementary treatments in combination with surgery.

A person should not attempt to treat osteochondritis dissecans without consulting a doctor. The condition may worsen without proper treatment.