ARTICULAR CARTILAGE INJURIES

ARTICULAR CARTILAGE INJURIES
AT GUSTAVEL ORTHOPEDICS

Injury can occur to articular cartilage due to either normal wear and tear or acute trauma, such as a sports injury. When the cartilage is damaged, the joint surface is no longer smooth, and so movement along it may cause pain.

Articular Cartilage Injuries

Articular cartilage injuries include a knee condition. The articular cartilage of the knee lines the bony surface of the joint and decreases the friction placed on the knee due to weight bearing activities. You can think of it as a thin shock absorber, helping to absorb the forces throughout the knee. It also allows the knee joint to move smoothly. Injury can occur to articular cartilage due to either normal wear and tear or acute trauma, such as a sports injury. When the cartilage is damaged, the joint surface is no longer smooth, and so movement along it may cause pain.

Wear and tear occur when the cartilage begins to soften and fragment, which leads to loss of structure and function in the knee. As the underlying bone loses the protection of the cartilage, osteoarthritis of the knee begins to develop. Because cartilage does not have a blood supply, once it is damaged it is usually not able to heal on its own. However, when a traumatic injury involves the underlying bone, blood flow from the bone might allow the cartilage to heal independently.

Articular Cartilage Injuries Symptoms and Treatment at Gustavel Orthopedics

Symptoms of Articular Cartilage Injuries

In a traumatic cartilage injury, patients usually experience knee swelling and pain. They may not be able to continue the activity they were doing when the injury occurred. When injury is due to normal wear and tear, patients experience stiffness, decreased range of motion, joint pain, and swelling.

Articular Cartilage Injuries Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by physical exam, evaluating range of motion, swelling, fluid buildup, and abnormal alignment of bones in the joint. MRIs and arthroscopy can help with diagnosis. X-rays usually cannot identify cartilage injuries because cartilage does not have calcium and cannot be seen on an X-ray. However, x-ray can help rule out other abnormalities of the joint.

Treatment Options for Articular Cartilage Injuries

As mentioned previously, due to the lack of blood supply, cartilage injuries usually do not heal on their own. Smaller injuries that are asymptomatic may not need surgery. Arthroscopic surgery can be used for small injuries causing symptoms to remove damaged cartilage and increase blood flow. Larger injuries may need more extensive surgery to transplant cartilage from other areas of the knee joint. When osteoarthritis has developed, physical therapy, braces, NSAIDs, and lifestyle changes can be implemented. For advanced osteoarthritis, total knee replacement can help ease pain, but requires lifestyle changes.

Articular Cartilage Injuries Symptoms and Treatment at Gustavel Orthopedics

Contact Gustavel Orthopedics in Boise, Idaho

Contact Dr. Gustavel for more information or a consultation regarding an articular cartilage injury. We specialize in quality patient care and providing you with options for your treatment plan. Dr. Michael Gustavel is a renowned Orthopedic Surgeon in Boise, Idaho who has been practicing since 2002.

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