My 17-year old son is on a high school water polo team. Several of the players have developed osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). How can we prevent this in our child?

Overuse of the arm or leg with repeated tissue trauma is the suspected cause of this condition in athletes. The constant pinching of cartilage between two bones may lead to the breakdown of the cartilage. The cartilage may separate from the bone and even break off.

Loose fragments of cartilage in a joint cause pain, swelling, and loss of motion. Doctors advise treatment at the earliest sign of this condition. In children under age 12, adequate rest is needed for healing. Older teens may need surgery to remove any torn tissue.

There isn’t any sure formula for prevention of OCD. Over training in competitive sports puts high stress on joints. Finding the right training for each sport and each athlete is a start.