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Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) of the Capitellum

What is OCD of the capitellum?

OCD of the capitellum is an overuse injury to the elbow joint where the bone and overlying cartilage is injured. The injured section can separate from the rest of the bone, resulting in a loose fragment floating in the joint. This may cause pain, loss of movement and catching in the joint. This disease is commonly seen in teenagers who play sports.

What causes OCD of the capitellum?

OCD of the capitellum is caused by repeated heavy loading to the outer part of the elbow joint. This can be through weight bearing sports

How do I know if I have OCD of the capitellum?

You may have OCD of the capitellum if you are the following:

  • a teenage gymnast, thrower, weightlifter or tennis player
  • have pain on the outside of your elbow
  • the pain is aggravated by weight-bearing, throwing or racquet sports
  • you have had a sore elbow for a while and you now have loss of movement or locking/catching.

It is vital that you are assessed early to avoid progressiveness of the injury, therefore making it easier to treat and gives better long-term outcomes.

How can physiotherapy help with OCD of the capitellum?

To ensure the right treatment is used for OCD of the capitellum, it is vital that you received an accurate diagnosis is crucial. Our physiotherapists will be able to accurately assess and differentiate the source of your elbow pain which will be examined though history and small tests. Physiotherapists will be able to help you manage your condition to try and prevent damage to the joint. Surgery may be required in more severe cases. If you do not require surgery your physiotherapist will provide you will a range of at-home exercises.

How effective is physiotherapy for OCD of the capitellum?

If your bone is has not been fragmented, a combination of rest and physiotherapy can allow you to return to your sport after 6-12 weeks. If the bone has been fragmented and needs surgery it may take longer to repair, therefore typically longer recovery time and it is more difficult to return to your previous level of sport.

How long until I feel better?

OCD of the capitellum can take 6–12 weeks to recover at best and it is important during that time that you follow the advice of your physiotherapist’s about appropriate rest. Your physiotherapist can help create a personal program that will suit your needs.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

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Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.