Cartilage is the firm, yet flexible connective tissue located on the articulating surfaces of bones within your joints as well as other areas of the body such as the tip of the nose and in the ear. It forms a rubber-like padding and acts like a shock absorber preventing the ends of the bones from rubbing against each other when you move.
Damage to cartilage may occur due to sudden (acute) sports injuries or due to age-related wear and tear (osteoarthritis). Cartilage injuries generally don’t heal well because the cartilage tends to have a poor blood supply as compared to other soft tissues or even bone. Minor cartilage injuries may quiet down but may take many weeks or even months. More severe cartilage injuries could result in persistent pain and swelling if not treated appropriately.
With new advances in orthopaedics, patients no longer have to live with joint pain or physical limitations due to cartilage damage. Advanced cartilage restoration methods such as autologous chondrocyte implantation and osteochondral autograft and allograft transfer have demonstrated significant clinical improvement in joint pain and function.
These procedures can usually be performed with minimally invasive techniques where special instruments are used to irrigate and debride the site of the injury and replace damaged cartilage with small plugs of healthy cartilage obtained from non-weightbearing areas of the joint or a biological membrane embedded with a patient’s own cartilage cells.
The benefits of cartilage restoration include:
- Avoiding the need of placing artificial substances within the joint to provide pain relief.
- Possibly preventing the development of arthritis due to bone and joint injury
- Helping people return to active lifestyles
- Delaying or avoiding the need for joint replacement surgery
If you have sustained a cartilage injury in your knee or shoulder that is preventing you from doing the things you enjoy such as sports, athletics, or even the routine activities of daily living and you’d rather not undergo joint replacement surgery just yet, you might be a candidate for cartilage restoration.
Dr. Ronak Patel is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon offering a full range of care for all problems of the knee and shoulder with a special interest in complex knee disorders. Book your appointment with Dr. Patel today: (630) 929-2249.