One of the most common knee conditions necessitating a visit to an orthopedic surgeon is articular cartilage damage. Articular cartilage is the smooth, firm tissue that covers the ends of bones in the knee joint. It reduces friction, acting as a “shock absorber” for the knee joint. When this cartilage becomes damaged, there are limitations in normal knee movement accompanied by significant knee pain.
What causes a Knee Cartilage Injury or Defect?
The most common causes of articular cartilage damage in the knee are degenerative diseases such as arthritis and osteoarthritis. Others include a traumatic event (such as a car accident) or overuse/repetitive motion. Knee cartilage issues can be congenital as well, where defects in the knee joint structure are present at birth.
How do you know you have a Knee Cartilage Injury or defect?
Articular cartilage damage in the knee is characterized by:
- Range of motion limitations
How does OSI fix a Knee Cartilage Injury or Defect?
OSI orthopedic knee specialists will discuss your knee symptoms and determine if your immobility and knee pain are due to knee cartilage issues. Your OSI orthopedic expert will use one or more of the following to determine the extent of the injury or defect and the best course of knee cartilage care:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will begin with a thorough consultation to understand your symptoms and any factors contributing to your knee pain and follow with a full physical examination.
- MRI: An MRI is typically the most effective method to assess the severity and location of articular cartilage damage.
Less severe cases of knee cartilage damage can be managed with nonsurgical interventions:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
More severe cases of knee cartilage damage can result in surgical intervention to reduce symptoms. Often an arthroscopic procedure will be recommended to remove pieces of cartilage and any loose fragments floating within the knee joint. Other procedures may require larger, open incisions, so the OSI orthopedic surgeon has more direct access to the area. You and your OSI doctor will discuss the best options for your particular cartilage damage.