When someone talks about cartilage, you may just think of your nose or your ear. Surprisingly, cartilage is the primary type of connective tissue in your body.
There are three types of cartilage:
- Articular: A smooth, white tissue that covers joint surfaces where the bones meet
- Fibrocartilage: Tough, strong tissue that is found in the knee meniscus or vertebral disk
- Elastic Cartilage: Flexible tissue that makes up the tip of the nose or outer ear
Damaged cartilage is a common injury experienced by people of all ages. Pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of range of motion in the joint are symptoms of articular cartilage damage.
Healthy articular cartilage allows a joint to move easily and reduces friction between bones. When this cartilage is damaged through injury or gradually through normal wear and tear, the rough joint surface hinders movement and causes inflammation and pain.
Minor injury can be treated with R.I.C.E. – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. However, because cartilage has no blood supply, healing is difficult. Therefore, repair through a surgical method may be needed.
You may need surgery if you are experiencing the following:
- Persistent Swelling, stiffness, and pain that does not improve with R.I.C.E. therapy.
- Difficulty performing routine tasks. For example, bending, squatting, or walking up stairs without knee pain or stiffness.
- Persistent Pain that does not improve with time.
Your doctor will discuss your injury, symptoms, and medical history with you. They will also do a thorough examination to evaluate your range of motion and identify possible areas of injury. An X-ray or MRI will be ordered to form an accurate diagnosis.
Advances in biologics and transplantation provide for cartilage restoration. Restoring your cartilage can relieve pain and return function to your joints as well as delay or prevent osteoarthritis from developing.
Although cartilage damage is most common in knees, shoulders and elbows can also be susceptible to injury. If you are experiencing persistent swelling, stiffness, and pain in your joint, Dr. Ronak Patel can help diagnose and treat cartilage damage in both teens and adults.
Dr. Ronak Patel is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon offering a full range of care for all knee and shoulder problems with a special interest in complex knee disorders.