Cartilage plays a vital role in your overall health and mobility, yet you might not give it a second thought until you have a joint problem like arthritis.
Even though it’s essential for joint function, cartilage has a limited blood supply, which means it’s very difficult for it to repair itself once it’s damaged. Fortunately, today there are solutions that can help.
James M. Lee Jr., MD, and our team at Orange Orthopaedic Associates help patients in West Orange and Bayonne, New Jersey, improve joint function through innovative cartilage restoration and repair techniques.
In this post, we offer a brief overview of cartilage restoration options to help you understand how these techniques could help you.
Joint cartilage and joint health
Your body contains three types of cartilage: elastic cartilage that’s found in your ears, voicebox, and other structures, and hyaline and fibrous cartilage that are found in your joints. Cartilage restoration focuses on restoring hyaline cartilage, the type of cartilage that covers the ends of the bones that make up your joints.
Hyaline cartilage is slick and tough. Its primary functions are to protect the ends of the bones while helping your joints move smoothly, reducing friction that can lead to inflammation and joint damage.
Hyaline cartilage also acts as a shock absorber for your joints, cushioning your bones from potentially damaging impact.
Cartilage doesn’t contain any blood vessels. Instead, it absorbs nutrients through its outer layer from surrounding tissues. As we noted above, the lack of active circulation can make it very hard for cartilage to heal itself once it’s injured or worn.
Falls and other injuries can definitely damage cartilage, but for many of our patients, damage happens after years of repetitive use and wear-and-tear on the joint surfaces.
Once cartilage is damaged, you can wind up with joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of mobility that can grow worse over time.
Restoring damaged cartilage
Before recommending cartilage restoration, we perform a thorough examination of your joint and review your symptoms and your medical history. Depending on your symptoms and other factors, we may perform a minimally invasive procedure called arthroscopy to see inside your joint, using a small incision and a very tiny camera.
As an orthopaedic specialist, Dr. Lee is skilled in multiple techniques for cartilage restoration. More conservative treatment options include physical therapy, medications, and joint injections.
We may recommend one of these treatments or a combination of them to achieve optimal effects for your needs.
When conservative approaches aren’t effective, we may recommend other techniques, like:
- Surgery to smooth the joint surface and improve joint function
- Collagen graft implantation
- Microfracture to spur the growth of new collagen
We perform these procedures on an outpatient basis and usually follow up with a course of physical therapy once the area has begun healing.
Make time for joint health
If you have mild joint pain or stiffness, it can be tempting to ignore your symptoms or write them off as just part of getting older. But you don’t have to suffer. We can treat joint symptoms, and the sooner we begin, the better for your joints.
To learn more about cartilage restoration and how it can help you protect your joints and your mobility, book an appointment online or over the phone today with Dr. Lee and our team at Orange Orthopaedic Associates.