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Osteochondral Lesions of the Talus (OLT)


This is an injury of the protective cartilage on the top of the talus (the ankle bone). You’ll find this cartilage where the talus touches the tibia and fibula(the bones of the lower leg). An osteochondral lesion can be a painful problem.


Osteochondral Lesions of the Talus (OLT)

Causes & Triggers

How does this injury happen? We don’t always know why. In some cases, it’s caused by a bad ankle sprain. It can also be caused by the repetitive strain of running or jumping. It happens when the top of the talus hits hard against the tibia or fibula. The cartilage is torn or crushed between these bones. And, your talus can fracture.

  • Injury
  • Repeated trauma
  • Sprains

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms depend on how badly the cartilage is injured. You may have pain, swelling and tenderness. Your ankle may feel weak. You may not be able to move it through its full range of motion. And it may pop or lock when you move it.

  • Instability
  • Locked or frozen ankle
  • Prolonged pain inside or outside the ankle joint
  • Swelling

Tips & Treatment

Some lesions can be treated with rest and a brace or cast. But if these aren’t helpful, you may need surgery. Your healthcare provider will create a plan that’s right for you.

  • Persistent pain even after decreased use and rest following an ankle sprain could be a sign of OLT.
  • With OLT, the injured cartilage may blister or form lesions, as well as fracture the bone.
  • Surgery may be likely and can include removal of injured bone or cartilage, and grafting of bone and/or cartilage.
  • Patients can expect to be unable to bear weight and/or be immobilized for several weeks or months.
  • Physical therapy also may be prescribed.

Related Specialties

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