We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Osteochondral Fracture?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
TheHealthBoard is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At TheHealthBoard, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An osteochondral fracture is a type of fracture in which the articular cartilage at the end of a joint becomes torn. These fractures are most commonly seen in the knee and ankle joints, as these joints take a lot of strain and bear a lot of weight, which can make them vulnerable to damage. Depending on the severity of the fracture, there are a number of treatment options ranging from fairly conservative treatments to surgery. It is important to get this type of fracture treated because such fractures can lead to the development of osteoarthritis later in life.

When an osteochondral fracture occurs, it is common for there to be fragments of bone and cartilage inside the joint. Sometimes they remain attached to the joint, in which case they are known as stable, while in other instances, they are unstable, floating around inside the joint. These fragments are a cause of concern because they can grind at the joint, causing additional damage in addition to making the joint rather painful.

An x-ray can be used to identify an osteochondral fracture, and sometimes other medical imaging studies may be used to get a more complete picture of what is going on inside the joint. These studies are also used to recommend a treatment. In a mild osteochondral fracture, the treatment may be as simple as rest and casting to allow the joint time to heal on its own. Younger patients often heal very well with this type of treatment because their growing bodies allow the joint to quickly heal and catch up with the rest of the body.

If fragments are present, it may be necessary to go into the joint to remove the fragments and stabilize the joint. Large missing pieces may be replaced with grafting so that the joint will remain relatively stable after the fracture heals. Surgery is often performed arthroscopically, by inserting cameras and surgical instruments through small incisions around the joint to access the area of concern. After surgery, casting may be used to keep the joint still in the early stages of healing.

Healing time from an osteochondral fracture varies, depending on the severity of the fracture. One of the problems with these fractures is that they often go unrecognized in the early stages. The patient may think that the joint is just stiff and sore, not realizing that ongoing damage is occurring. By the time the fracture is identified, the situation may be much more serious, and more extensive treatment may be required.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon323118 — On Mar 03, 2013

I would like to know what the recovery time is after surgery on the fragments of the knee cap.

By PinkLady4 — On Sep 27, 2011

I know a guy who had one of these osteochondral fractures of his ankle. He was injured playing soccer. He had trouble walking for a few days. Then he had some twinges of pain off and on for a couple of weeks.

He didn't think much of it and went back to playing soccer. About a year later, the pain returned for no reason that he could figure out.

Anyway, he went to the doctor, had x-rays and all. They found these little pieces of bone stuck inside his ankle joint. These pieces of bone were starting to damage his joint.

It was pretty bad, so he had surgery and the bone parts were removed. If he hadn't had the surgery, he was at risk to get arthritis in that ankle joint.

By lovealot — On Sep 26, 2011

How would you know after you injured your knee or ankle whether it's just a sprain or if it's an osteochondral fracture, where pieces of bone are floating around in the joint? Should you go to the doctor with every little injury to the knees or ankles?

After learning about this kind of fracture, I think that I would go to the doctor if the pain didn't stop fairly quickly. I wouldn't want to take the chance of having it lead to osteoarthritis sometime down the road.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.