What's Involved in Cartilage Repair?

What's Involved in Cartilage Repair?

Cartilage is the smooth tissue that cushions the space between bones at joints like your knees, hips, and shoulder. It allows your bones to glide freely at your joints. But when the cartilage deteriorates, you experience pain and weakness as bone rubs against bone. Joints become dysfunctional and without treatment, arthritic. In fact, arthritis affects 24% of the American population.

Cartilage can’t repair itself, so when it’s gone – it’s gone. Cartilage repair surgery is a way to replace lost cartilage, thus reducing pain and restoring function. At Silicon Valley Orthopaedics in Fremont, California, Nic Gay, MD, Masi Reynolds, DO, and April Mancuso, MD, offer advanced cartilage repair surgeries. The type that’s right for you depends on your unique situation.

Here’s what to know about cartilage repair and if it might be a treatment to explore.

About cartilage repair

Cartilage repair surgery aims to help your body form new cartilage-like tissue in areas where cartilage has worn away or been damaged. As an adult, you can’t grow new cartilage. It doesn’t have a full blood supply, meaning it can’t heal without assistance.

The term “cartilage repair” is a bit misleading. Damaged cartilage can’t usually be repaired, but we use techniques that can replace or reconstruct it. 

Cartilage repair uses cell-based or tissue-based techniques. The tissue comes from your own body or a donor. It’s also possible to generate cartilage repair tissue in a lab. 

Candidates for cartilage repair

Usually, cartilage repair is appropriate for the knee joint, but sometimes we use these techniques at the hip, ankle, or shoulder. 

If you’ve progressed to cartilage loss (arthritis), repair is not the right procedure for you. You should be in generally good health and most people who undergo this surgery are younger than 50. 

Types of cartilage repair

A common type of repair replaces lubrication at the joint, slowing down the progression of a wear-and-tear injury. Hyaluronic acid injections at the knee replace this natural compound that provides hydration and suppleness in the tissue.

Some people qualify for a procedure called abrasion arthroplasty. During this minimally invasive surgery, our team removes and smooths jagged cartilage to improve mobility at the joint. 

Drilling is another cartilage repair strategy that stimulates your body to produce healthy cartilage. Our team makes multiple holes in the injured cartilage as well as in the nearby bone to get a healing response. 

Microfracture surgery can also prompt your body to heal itself by removing damaged cartilage and then creating tiny incisions in the bone. 

Our providers at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics also provide OATS, or osteochondral autograft transplantation surgery. The procedure involves taking cartilage harvested from another area of your body or provided by a donor or lab and placing it at a site of cartilage damage to stimulate new structure growth.

If you have joint pain due to cartilage damage, reach out to Silicon Valley Orthopaedics today for a diagnosis and treatment plan. Call today or use this website to schedule your visit.

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