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Osteochondritis Juvenilis
May 2002

Q. My 9-year-old grandson has been diagnosed with Osteochondritis juvenilis. This started when he complained of severe pain in his heel. The hospital said that it was rare, but it appeared that he had broken it. Upon further investigation, the above disease was diagnosed as being probable. After 6 weeks and no signs of healing, this diagnosis was confirmed.

What will help the healing of this condition? We have been told that there is nothing that can be done and that he will just have to cope with painkillers for the pain and remain on crutches. Is there anything dietary that would speed up the healing process?

A. Osteochondritis dessicans is a condition of unknown cause in which the cartilage which covers the end of bones to provide a cushion becomes defective. A piece of the cartilage breaks loose in the joint or simply degenerates, causing inflammation and pain in the joint. Juvenilis refers to the occurrence of this condition in childhood.

As with other forms of cartilage injury, treatment is difficult as the cartilage has limited blood supply and therefore limited healing. In a child, protecting the joint from impact may allow some cartilage to re-grow. Other treatment options include attempts to transplant cartilage from another site into the area affected, or surgical procedures to try to stimulate new cartilage growth. Treatment is usually done by orthopedic doctors who specialize in the conditions of children. I have not found any published reports of dietary factors that have been proven helpful.




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