Cartilage Repair for Joint Preservation

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The cartilage in joints performs a very important function: it acts as a cushion between the moving parts of a joint, absorbing the shock of high-impact movements, helping the joint move more smoothly, and providing additional stability. Damage to the cartilage of a joint can severely reduce mobility, and cause significant pain. Cartilage repair surgery helps to preserve the joint's structure and function, and reduces pain and other symptoms too.

About Cartilage Injuries

Cartilage is tough and flexible, but it's a type of tissue that has a poor blood supply. This means that when it's injured in some way, it doesn't repair itself very easily. Cartilage is vulnerable to certain kinds of injuries, in particular, injuries caused by high-impact twisting movements. Cartilage also becomes more likely to tear as we age, because it loses flexibility and is more prone to injury. In addition, simple wear-and-tear from normal everyday movement and activities causes slow but unavoidable damage to joint cartilage.

Any one of these injuries or situations can lead to the degeneration of the cartilage that cushions a particular joint. The joints that are most vulnerable are the hip and knee joints, because they're the joints that take most of our weight when we walk and perform other activities.

When cartilage deteriorates due to injury or wear-and-tear, the joint no longer has the cushioning it needs to move smoothly. The results is that moving the joint may start to cause significant pain, the joint becomes stiff and less able to move freely. Aside from the pain, the most significant problem people experience is a loss of mobility.

Repairing Damage to Cartilage

Minor and moderate injuries to cartilage can often be repaired with an extended period of rest, medication to relieve pain and inflammation, and rehabilitation exercises. However, not all cartilage injuries can be effectively treated this way. Extensive injuries to the cartilage are more difficult to treat because of the limited blood supply.

If a cartilage injury is large or unstable—meaning it continues to get worse over time—then surgery is often the best way to repair the damage. Whenever possible, cartilage repair surgery is carried out using a surgical technique called arthroscopy. In this kind of surgery a surgeon uses a miniature camera and surgical instruments to repair the damage via small incisions in the treatment area. This technique is less invasive than open surgery, and the recovery time is shorter. However, for larger cartilage defects limited open surgery may be required.

Surgeons use several different surgical techniques to repair cartilage. For instance, one technique is called microfracture. Here, the surgeon removes damaged cartilage, and then uses a surgical instrument to make tiny holes in the bone underneath. This stimulates the growth of new cartilage, and at the same time provides the new cartilage with a temporary blood supply to provide nutrients for growth. This can be combined with platelet rich plasma or the patients own stem cells.

Recovering after Cartilage Repair

After cartilage repair surgery, it's vital to provide the joint with support and protection in order to allow the cartilage to heal properly. Depending on the joint that was repaired, this might mean using a mobility aid such as crutches or a leg brace for several weeks after surgery. Most people will also be prescribed some kind of physical therapy to strengthen the leg muscles and improve the mobility of the joint.

After cartilage surgery the tissue is still vulnerable to further damage, so it's important to be mindful of this, and to continue to take care of the joint to reduce the risk of this happening. We will then have a discussion about when it is safe to resume back to your usual level of activity.

Other risks are stiffness, numbness, thrombosis and re rupture. However, would good post operative care and guided physio therapy these risks can be kept to a minimum.

 

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Visiting Clinic & Hospitals

Highgate Private Hospital

17-19 View Road LONDON N64DJ

BMI The Kings Oak Hospital

Chase Farm North Side The Ridgeway Enfield LONDON EN2 8SD

BMI The Cavell Hospital

Cavell Drive Uplands Park Road Enfield LONDON EN2 7PR

Royal Free London Hospital (Barnet)

Wellhouse Lane, Barnet, Hertfordshire, EN5 3DJ

Royal Free London Hospital (Chase Farm)

The Ridgeway, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 8JL

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