Osteochondritis isn’t a condition that most people have heard of and probably won’t unless their podiatrist diagnoses them with it. Osteochondritis is characterized by lesions that develop as a result of injury or death to the bone that lies under the cartilage of a joint. It’s common for the ankle joint to be affected by osteochondritis.
This condition is most often seen in children and teens, especially if they are athletes or participate in high-impact activities. Osteochondritis symptoms may appear immediately after the joint injury or may surface months afterward.
Common symptoms of osteochondritis in the ankle joint include:
- Pain and stiffness
- Tenderness and swelling around the ankle
- A popping or clicking sound in the joint
- Ankle instability (feeling
- as if the ankle might give out)
- Loss of joint flexibility and range-of-motion
If you or your little one is dealing with ankle joint pain or any of these other symptoms, particularly after an injury, it is important that you see a podiatrist who will be able to diagnose and treat the condition as soon as possible.
When you come in for care, a podiatrist will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing. During your physical exam your doctor may ask you to move the ankle around in order to check your range of motion.
In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs are needed to check the extent of the damage and to provide more comprehensive images of the tissue, joints, bone, and cartilage of the ankle. Remember, these symptoms can also be indicative of other problems, and these imaging tests can rule out other issues and provide a definite diagnosis.
The main goal of osteochondritis treatment is to reduce pain and other symptoms while also improving how the ankle joint functions. Since those with osteochondritis are also at an increased risk for developing osteoarthritis later on, we will also recommend specific ways to reduce this risk.
In most cases, resting and avoiding activities that could exacerbate your condition is imperative to healing. If the damage is serious enough, a foot doctor may recommend wearing a cast or brace for a few weeks to provide additional support and protection for the affected ankle joint.
Physical therapy may also be prescribed to improve the health of the joint while also strengthening the muscles, ligaments, cartilage and other soft tissues surrounding the joint. These stretching and strengthening exercises will improve range of motion and flexibility in the joint and gradually restore function.
If you suspect that you or your child’s symptoms are due to osteochondritis, it is important that you schedule an evaluation with a foot care expert as soon as possible.