Cartilage has many functions in the human body, but is most commonly thought of as covering the ends of bones providing a smooth surface for movement through a joint. When damaged, it can be a source for debilitating pain, swelling, and loss of motion/ function of the joint. It can also lead to mechanical symptoms such as a sense of giving way, clunking, catching or locking.
As with many injuries, non-operative management is tried initially. It can range from avoiding painful activities to injections into the joint with a steroid, hyaluronic acid, and/or platelet rich plasma (PRP). If the injury remains symptomatic, the surgeon may recommend one of several cartilage restoration procedures. These procedures include but are not limited to:
The patient’s lower limb alignment will be determined prior to surgery. Often, the alignment causes unequal stress across the joint and can be a cause of the injury. In such cases, an osteotomy, or precise cutting of the bone, is needed to restore a more normal alignment to help to long term success of the cartilage.