Leah Strohmeyer enjoys playing sports – field hockey in the fall, softball in the spring and basketball all the time. Playing sports year-round, the 13-year-old Lexington middle school student is used to playing with sore knees, aches and bruises.
But during field hockey season the pain Strohmeyer felt in the back of her knee was so intense that she needed to take a day off from practice. The pain went away after a few days,but before she stepped back on the field, her father – Damian – decided she should see a doctor.
Strohmeyer and her father met with Joseph Czarnecki, MD who diagnosed her with osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). OCD is a joint injury of the knee or ankle which typically impacts adolescents.
“Due to overuse, the cartilage becomes fragmented allowing free movement of the bone, causing pain.Rest and physical therapy can typically heal the injury, but in some cases arthroscopic surgery is required,” said Czarnecki.
Strohmeyer had surgery during April vacation and was back to playing sports over the summer.
“I was on crutches for a little bit, but after that I could walk around with no pain,” Strohmeyer said. “I used a knee brace when I started playing sports and I was playing basketball in June. I never felt pain again.”
For Eric Martin, he was unsure if he would ever play baseball again after being diagnosed with OCD. But after a year away from sports for arthroscopic surgery and physical therapy,the 15-year old Wakefield High School freshman was able to step back on the mound.
“When I first found out, Iwas pretty mad because I missed the rest of the season,” Martin said. “Then Ididn’t know if I would play sports again, but now I’m back and I’m excited tobe playing again.”
“The goal is to get these kids back to playing sports,” Dr. Czarnecki said. “And the good news is that once the injury is healed, reoccurrence is rare.”