Can You Benefit from Cartilage Replacement Surgery?
Chances are you probably won’t give much thought to the protective cartilage that cushions your bones until it wears down to the point that it becomes raw and painful. Each year, thousands of people must undergo surgery to repair torn cartilage because the pain interferes with their daily lives. Repair usually means shaving damaged cartilage, but many younger, more active patients are excellent candidates for cartilage replacement surgery. This exciting therapy aims to eliminate pain, restore function and reduce or delay the need for total joint arthroplasty. So, what exactly is cartilage, and how can it be damaged and repaired?
What is cartilage?
Cartilage is a rubbery, smooth substance found in every joint in your body. It serves to help bones glide smoothly within a joint and as shock absorption.
How can cartilage be damaged?
Your cartilage can be damaged through trauma such as twisting or direct impact; ligament injuries that make your joint unstable or loose resulting in damage to the joint surface cartilage; and poorly aligned joints placing excess pressure on cartilage. The damage can be painful, as well as limit everyday activities like walking.
What are your options for treatment?
While cartilage can be damaged in the hip, ankle, shoulder and elbow, the most common area of injury is the knee. Cartilage replacement in knee injuries is an excellent alternative to total knee replacement and especially promising for more active patients. Some of the treatment options involved in cartilage replacement surgery include:
- Arthroscopic and open cartilage replacement procedures
- Performed through small incisions, these are used to stimulate cartilage restoration, replace areas of damaged cartilage with healthy cartilage from elsewhere in the knee, replace damaged cartilage with donor cartilage and bone, or encourage knee cartilage regeneration using your own cartilage cells.
- Limited (partial) replacement of joint surfaces
Used instead of total joint replacement for older active patients
- Realignment procedures
Called osteotomies, this can be done to take pressure off of damaged and repaired areas of the joint.
Who can be treated?
Anyone from teens to middle-aged adults can be treated with the techniques that orthopedic surgeons use to repair or regenerate cartilage. The surgery can be performed at an outpatient surgery center or a hospital, depending on the procedure.
What happens after you’ve had treatment?
After you have cartilage replacement surgery in a joint, you must return to activity gradually. It will take time and patience, so don’t expect to return to the activities you enjoyed before your injury occurred. The treatment after surgery often requires specialized physical therapy, under the direct supervision of physicians.
If you’ve been suffering joint pain and are interested in treatment options beyond total replacement surgery, cartilage replacement surgery may be for you. An orthopedic surgery practice dedicated to the repair and restoration of cartilage, like the Cartilage Restoration Center in New Jersey, a division of Advanced Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute, can help. With Board-certified surgeons utilizing the latest techniques, you’ll be well on your way to returning to that active lifestyle you’ve been missing.