Cartilage damage is a common injury. Common joints involved include weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. Less commonly, it can also include upper limb joints such as the shoulder and elbow.
Cartilage is a firm, flexible connective tissue. It lines the surface of joints to allow bones to glide over each other, and also acts like a shock absorber.
Cartilage damage can occur as a result of a sudden injury (such as a sports injury) or gradual wear and degeneration (osteoarthritis).
Participation in contact sports like soccer, rugby, basketball
Improper landing, jumping and cutting techniques
Joint pain, worse when you put weight on the joint
Swelling, which can occur intermittently
Clicking or grinding sensation
Joint locking, catching, or giving way
Cartilage does not have a blood supply. More severe cartilage damage will not heal its own. If left untreated, it can eventually wear down the joint.
Initial acute management includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. Subsequent conservative management such as physiotherapy will aim to reduce pain, improve range of motion/flexibility, strength and balance/control.
If your symptoms are severe or do not improve, you may need professional treatment.
Surgical options include the following:
- Cartilage repair & microfracture: encouraging the growth of new cartilage by drilling small holes in the nearby bone
- Cartilage transfer: replacing the damaged cartilage with healthy cartilage taken from another part of the joint
- Arthroplasty / Knee Replacement: replacing the entire joint with an artificial one – this is usually only necessary in the most severe cases
You should visit a cartilage knee specialist as soon as possible. They will have a discussion about your medical history, and carry out a range of tests including movement assessments.
MRI is usually needed for further assessment.
Early assessment and appropriate treatment of the condition will give you the best chance of a quick recovery. Get effective and specialised care for your cartilage condition. Consult Dr Dennis Ng today.
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