Articular Cartilage Restoration
Articular Cartilage Restoration in St. Louis & Wentzville, MO
Articular cartilage is the rubber-like padding found at joints of the body, such as the knee, shoulder, and elbow. It is what allows your bones located at a joint to move in tandem, without friction. Articular cartilage is named after articulation, another word for “joint.” Articular cartilage is a type of cartilage called hyaline cartilage.
When articular cartilage wears down, it can lead to bone-on-bone chafing, which can cause pain and inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the joint. It can also limit your ability to move the affected joint. If a piece of cartilage breaks off, the joint may even lock up.
Cartilage deterioration occurs primarily as the result of wear and tear spurred on by osteoarthritis. It can also occur due to trauma such as from a direct blow to the joint during athletic activity, a car accident, or a bad fall. Obesity and repetitive stress on the joints can increase your risk of cartilage damage.
The weight-bearing joint of the knee is most commonly affected, but cartilage damage can also occur at the shoulder, elbow, and other joints in the body.
Treating Cartilage Damage
Unlike other tissue in the body, cartilage does not heal well on its own.
Anti-inflammatory medications or pain-management injections may bring symptom relief for some. In most cases, however, surgery is required to restore articular cartilage for pain-free movement in the affected joint.
Arthroscopy is often the procedure of choice as it can serve dual purposes – provide diagnostic (identifying the extent of cartilage damage) and therapeutic (performing surgical repairs) functions at the same time. Multiple issues at the joint may be addressed at the same time during a single arthroscopic procedure.
Typical cartilage-repair treatment options include:
Debridement describes the act of using a special surgical tool to smooth damaged cartilage and remove any loose bits to ease any friction at the joint. Debridement is part of an abrasion arthroplasty procedure.
The purpose of these treatment options is to stimulate new cartilage growth at the affected joint. This is accomplished by creating tiny holes in the bone under the existing damaged cartilage, exposing blood vessels within the bone and bringing a blood supply – and a healing response – to the area of damaged cartilage. A sharp tool (awl) is used in a microfracture procedure, and an electric drill is used in a drilling procedure. It is important to note, however, that new cartilage produced in this manner will not be as resilient as the original articular cartilage.
Similar to microfracture and drilling, abrasion arthroplasty uses an electric burr to reach the bone under existing damaged cartilage in an effort to stimulate new tissue growth.
If your cartilage damage is restricted to a very small area, you may be a good candidate for a mosaicplasty. In this procedure, healthy cartilage from another (nonweight-bearing) area of the bone is transplanted to the area with cartilage damage.
In this two-step procedure, healthy articular cartilage cells are removed, grown in a lab, then later implanted at the site with cartilage damage. The first step of this procedure is performed via arthroscopy, but the second step requires a more traditional, open surgery.
Joint Pain Treatment in St. Louis, Missouri
Are you suffering from joint pain that may be a result of damaged articular cartilage? If you require surgery, find out what your cartilage-repair treatment options are before going any further. Call the office of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jason Browdy in St. Louis, Missouri at (314) 991-2150 to schedule your consultation. Or request your appointment now.