How to Know If You Have Cartilage Damage and What to Do About It

Cartilage is a tough, flexible tissue found throughout the body. It covers joint surfaces, acting as a shock absorber and allowing bones to slide over one another. Damage is relatively common, occurring from sudden injury or through gradual wear and tear. Often it is the knees that are affected. Severe damage will require attention from a trusted San Francisco sports medicine specialist.

Symptoms

  • Joint Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Clicking or Grinding Sensation
  • Joint Locking, Catching, or Giving Way

Joint pain may continue even when resting and worsen when you put weight on the joint. Swelling may not develop for a few hours or days.

When to Get Medical Advice

Visit a knee replacement specialist in the Bay Area if:

  • You can’t move the joint properly
  • You can’t control the pain with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers
  • You can’t put any weight on the injured limb or it gives way when you try to use it
  • The injured area looks crooked or has unusual lumps or bumps (other than swelling)
  • You have numbness, discolouration, or coldness in any part of the injured area
  • Your symptoms haven’t started to improve within a few days of self-treatment

Surgery

Severe cartilage damage doesn’t heal on its own, making surgery necessary. It is usually performed under general anesthesia using arthroscopy, where special instruments are inserted into the joint through small incisions.

Some of the main procedures are:

Lavage and Debridement  The joint is cleaned out to remove any loose tissue, and the edges of the damaged area are trimmed to make them smooth.

Marrow Stimulation  Tiny holes are made in the bone beneath the damaged cartilage, releasing bone marrow into it. Marrow cells then stimulate production of new cartilage.

Mosaicplasty  Small plugs of healthy cartilage from non-weight bearing areas of a joint are removed and used to replace small areas of damaged cartilage.

Osteotomy  The alignment of the leg is altered slightly to reduce pressure on the damaged area and improve pain. Then the bone is fixed with a plate until it heals.

 

Autologous Chondrocyte (MACI Procedure)  Cartilage cells are taken from the injured knee and cloned in the laboratory using cell culture techniques. They are then re-implanted back into the joint to regrow cartilage on the damaged surface.

Joint Replacement  Replacing the whole joint with an artificial one is occasionally necessary if the damage is extremely severe.

Talk to a cartilage specialist in San Francisco to discuss the need of surgery, what the possible risks are, and how long he expects it will take you to recover. You’ll usually need to take things easy for at least a few weeks after surgery. You may not be able to return to strenuous activities and sports for several months.

Book An Appointment With A Bay Area Sports Medicine Doctor For A Professional Opinion

Have you experienced a joint injury that you think might have damaged cartilage? Contact Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht for a consultation. Visit our patient contact page HERE or call (415) 923-0944.