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Osteochondral Injuries (Lesions)

Osteochondral lesions of the talus (OCLs) are injuries or small fractures, to the surface of the cartilage on the lower bone of the ankle joint (talus).

The talus is mostly covered with cartilage, with the tibia and fibula bones above and to the sides of the talus forming the ankle joint. The joint allows the ankle to move up and down. However, because blood isn’t supplied to this area as richly as to other bones, injuries don’t always heal as well as other areas of the body.

Injuries can include:

  • Damage to the cartilage
  • Cysts within the bone beneath the cartilage
  • Fracture of the cartilage and bone

What causes OCLs?

Most OCLs are caused by accidents, including ankle sprains. If the injury involves the talus as well as another part of the joint (tibia or fibula), this can scrape or crush the talus, resulting in damage.

Damage can also happen because of long term wear and tear.

What are the signs of OCLs?

Signs include:

  • Pain and swelling
  • A sensation of the joint ‘catching’
  • Ankle instability
  • Continued pain and swelling, despite resting the joint, following an ankle sprain

How are OCLs diagnosed?

During your first appointment, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your symptoms with Mr Heidari, who will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. He will usually arrange for X-rays along with a CT or MRI scan to examine the talus.

What does treatment involve?

In some cases, immobilising and keeping weight off the joint, followed by an exercise programme with a member of our physiotherapy team may be enough to allow the cartilage and bone to heal. However, if this isn’t successful or if the injury is very serious, Mr Heidari may advise carrying out arthroscopic surgery to remove injured cartilage and bone and reshape the surface of the bone to reduce pain and minimise the risk of developing arthritis.

Important
This information is written as a guide to your treatment but it is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.