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How Do I Treat a Bone Chip?

By Kelli Cooper ; Updated July 27, 2017

Bone chips--medically termed osteochondritis dessicans--occurs when a fragment of bone or cartilage comes loose. This can result in pain and other symptoms. It most commonly affects the knee but can occur in any joint. Prompt treatment offers a good outcome and reduces the risks of long-term complications.

Refrain from sports and other physically demanding activity. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends you do this for at least 6 to 8 weeks.

Reduce stress on the affected area. This might include avoiding certain types of movements and immobilizing the area with crutches, braces or slings.

Use over-the-counter pain relievers to ease pain. Talk to your doctor about stronger options if these do not provide adequate relief.

Apply ice to the affected area to ease inflammation and swelling. The University of Buffalo Sports Medicine recommends 20 to 30 minutes every four hours the first few days after the injury.

Work with a physical therapist. He can show you exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected area. Low-impact activities like swimming can help maintain physical fitness.

Talk to your doctor about surgery if symptoms have not improved after three months. Arthroscopic surgery can remove or reattach the bone fragments. This will improve blood flow and joint function.

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