If you’re dealing with joint pain and stiffness, you’re no stranger to how it affects your everyday life. There are many conditions that can cause joint problems, but did you know that it might actually be a decrease in cartilage that’s causing problems?
At Alpha Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, our expert orthopedic surgeons can help you figure out if you’re dealing with cartilage loss that’s causing joint problems. They can also discuss treatment options to help you regain mobility and reclaim your active life.
What causes cartilage loss in your joint?
To fully understand why cartilage loss can be such an issue, you first have to understand why it’s important. Cartilage is the tissue that covers the ends of your bones where they meet together in your joint. It allows the bones to glide over each other smoothly and fluidly.
If your cartilage has worn away, your bones won’t be able to move as smoothly and in severe cases can cause bone on bone friction and intense pain. This may also cause you to have swelling, stiffness, or grinding in your joint. There are three main reasons that you may experience loss of cartilage, including:
1. Direct injury
Cartilage loss caused by a direct injury can result from blunt trauma to the joint. This can be from a severe car accident or even a very bad fall where the joint makes direct impact with the ground. If you’re an athlete, sporting injuries are also a cause of cartilage loss.
Osteoarthritis is a very common degenerative condition that can get worse over time. The degeneration that occurs with this condition wears down the cartilage that cushions your joints. This condition can damage cartilage in any joint in your body, but is most often found in your knees, hips, and hands.
3. Overuse injuries
This type of injury is one that gets worse over time and results in damage to the cartilage and surrounding ligaments or tendons. This is a common occurrence in sports, as there are repetitive motions. If your technique is wrong, or you’re training too much, you’re at risk for an overuse injury.
Restoring cartilage in your joints
You may think that once your cartilage is gone, you can’t get it back. That might have been true at one time, but with today’s technology and our skilled surgeons, cartilage restoration is a great treatment option.
Usually, conservative avenues are the first line of treatment for your injury, unless it’s severe. This typically includes:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Physical Therapy
- Steroid injections
If you’ve tried these without relief, it’s probably time to speak to one of our surgeons about cartilage restoration surgery.
This procedure is done by arthroscopy, meaning you’ll only need a few tiny incisions by your joint. Our surgeons will then insert small instruments into your joint to repair the damaged cartilage and repair the surrounding tissue if needed. This can be done by a method called microfracturing, which involves a sharp tool that our surgeons use to make small holes in the bone in your joint. This stimulates new blood supply, which in turn stimulates the growth of new cartilage.
This surgery is very effective in treating injuries within your knee, but can also be beneficial with cartilage loss in your shoulder and even your ankle. With new cartilage growth, you’ll likely experience a lot less pain in your joint and regain a lot of joint mobility.
There are other procedures that can also stimulate cartilage growth; however, it’s up to you and your surgeon to determine what procedure is best for you and your injury.
Dealing with joint pain isn’t fun, so if you’re ready to explore your treatment options, contact one of our three convenient offices in Texas, or request an appointment online today with one of our skilled staff.