Cartilage damage from injuries or arthritis can cause chronic joint pain that gets progressively worse. If you’re a suitable candidate, the board-certified and fellowship-trained team at New Braunfels Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine in New Braunfels, Texas, can carry out cartilage restoration surgery to stimulate the growth of new, healthy cartilage and relieve joint pain and stiffness. If you have chronic joint pain, call the office today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment using the online form.
Cartilage restoration is a procedure that aims to promote the growth of new hyaline cartilage in your joints. Hyaline cartilage is a hard, smooth material that coats the ends of your bones. Its function is to protect the bones and stop them from rubbing against one another where they meet in your joints.
When you have healthy cartilage, your joints move freely and painlessly. If the cartilage suffers damage or gets worn down over time, the bones don’t slide against each other so smoothly. Friction builds up and leads to inflammation and joint pain.
Unlike soft tissues, cartilage doesn’t heal well by itself, so without intervention, your joint pain is likely to deteriorate. Cartilage restoration uses surgical techniques that help new cartilage to grow. This relieves pain and improves joint function.
There are two approaches to carrying out cartilage restoration. Where possible, the New Braunfels Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine team uses arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery that causes less tissue damage and promotes faster healing.
In some cases, arthroscopy might not give sufficient access to the affected cartilage. If so, your surgeon uses traditional open surgery.
Knees are the most common joint to benefit from cartilage restoration, but the New Braunfels Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine team can also treat ankles and shoulders.
There are several cartilage restoration techniques in use. These include:
With the microfracture technique, your surgeon uses a sharp instrument called an awl to make holes in the bone under your cartilage. Your body responds to the damage by sending fresh blood supplies to the area. The blood brings healing cells that create new cartilage.
Drilling uses the same technique as microfracture, but your surgeon makes the holes with a surgical drill or wire. This is a less precise method than microfracture.
ACI involves using arthroscopy to take a sample of cartilage from your joint. The sample goes to a lab where they extract healthy cartilage cells (chondrocytes) from the sample and culture over the following 3-5 weeks. Your surgeon then implants the new cells into a specially prepared layer of bone-lining tissue.
Osteochondral autograft transplantation involves using your healthy cartilage and transplanting it to the damaged joint surface. Osteochondral allograft transplantation uses cartilage donated from a cadaver. Autograft is suitable for small areas, but allograft is usually necessary for larger defects.
To find out more about cartilage restoration and how it can restore your joints, call New Braunfels Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine today or book an appointment online.