At MedStar Orthopaedic Institute, our experienced orthopedic surgeons perform thousands of surgeries each year, including cartilage restoration surgery for articular cartilage damage in the knee. We pride ourselves on offering the least invasive surgical options to allow our patients to recover quickly from surgery and return to their regular lives faster. Our surgeons take the time to explain your unique condition and walk you through your treatment from beginning to end. Our specialists will always encourage non-surgical options when possible and recommend surgical options only when necessary.
What is articular cartilage damage?
It refers to the wearing or damage to the hard, smooth cartilage that protects the ends of your bones between joints. It is often associated with torn cartilage in the knee joint. Because cartilage does not have a direct blood supply, it is very slow to heal. When the damage is severe, it may require surgery to replace the cartilage. Often, cartilage damage occurs as the result of an ACL injury or a sports-related knee injury. While the knee is the most common area for this damage to occur, you may also experience damage to your ankle or shoulder.
What are the causes?
The most common causes of knee cartilage damage include the following:
- ACL injuries
- Sports-related injuries
- Sudden twisting movement
- Direct blow to the joint
- Joint dislocations
What are the symptoms?
It is important to visit an orthopedic specialist if you are suffering from any of these symptoms:
- Sudden onset of joint pain
- Locking in the knee
- Knee, ankle, or shoulder aching
- Gradual onset of joint pain
- Loss of range of motion
- Inability to bear full weight on the knee
- Lack of coordination in the knee
- Joint pain when performing sports or physical activities
How is it diagnosed?
At the first signs of a knee cartilage tear, it is important to speak with an orthopedic specialist. Your initial exam will likely include the following:
- Medical history evaluation – Your physician will discuss your medical history with you and any relevant prior joint problems or injuries.
- Physical exam – Your doctor will evaluate the affected area and may ask you questions about your pain level.
- Imaging tests – Your orthopedist will also likely conduct imaging studies to rule out a fracture and accurately diagnose your condition.
What are the best treatment options?
Sometimes, when the injury is not severe, your orthopedist may recommend conservative options to manage your pain. These may include:
- Ice to decrease swelling and pain
- Avoiding activities that cause pain
- Anti-inflammatory or pain medications
- Elevation to reduce swelling
- Physical therapy
When conservative options are not successful or when cartilage damage is severe, MedStar Orthopaedic Institute offers treatment options for restoring your cartilage, including the cartilage restoration surgery.
If you believe you may be suffering from articular cartilage damage, call 202-295-0511 to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute. Our doctors have years of experience diagnosing and treating joint conditions and are pleased to offer comprehensive orthopedic care in the Washington, D.C. area.