Cartilage may be a small part of our body’s overall anatomy, but it plays a big role in helping us move and complete basic, everyday activities. When healthy joints move, there is very little friction, therefore, no pain. However, when joints are affected by cartilage injuries or degeneration, the most immediate result is pain and swelling.
- How does cartilage sustain damage? Cartilage can be damaged through the normal wear and tear of years of use or it can be traumatically injured in a one-time incident, such as a fall or accident.
- Won’t my cartilage heal on its own? Unfortunately, articular cartilage is made up of a kind of cell that is extremely slow to reproduce. Therefore, it does not heal well and if left untreated, can lead to the onset of arthritis or other associated injuries.
- How will I know that my cartilage has been injured? You will feel pain in your joint and the injury will also usually be accompanied by swelling. If your cartilage has been degenerating over time, you may have chronic swelling, but for more immediate cartilage injuries in Limerick, such as those associated with ligament tears or joint dislocation, the onset of swelling will be immediate.
- Is it important to see a doctor right away? Sometimes, if a patient can be seen soon after the injury, a broken piece of cartilage can actually be put back in place. This is reason enough to call and make an appointment immediately or even to visit an orthopaedic urgent care facility where you can walk in a see a physician right away.
- Why do I feel my joint catching and locking? When pieces of broken cartilage or bone float around in the joint, they are referred to as “loose bodies.” These particles can actually get caught in between the bones and cause the joint to catch or lock during mid-movement. Some loose bodies can be removed arthroscopically.
- How are cartilage injuries in Limerick usually diagnosed? Although your physician will conduct a physical exam and may also order x-rays to rule out the possibility of associated bone injuries, cartilage damage is best assessed through an MRI scan. An MRI can show your doctor the extent of the cartilage injury as well as how much healthy cartilage remains.
- What are my treatment options? In some cases, slightly damaged cartilage can simply be smoothed arthroscopically and scar tissue is allowed to grow in its place. In other cases, it is more appropriate to harvest healthy cartilage from either the patient or a cadaver and use it to implant in the affected area. Lastly, a procedure called Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation now allows us to culture and grow cartilage cells in a lab to use as new, healthy replacement cartilage in the damaged area.
- How long is the rehabilitation from cartilage restoration surgery? Recovery varies based on which joint is affected, the extent of the injury, your own overall healthy and many other factors. However, on average, patients with cartilage injuries in Limerick can expect a two to three month recovery process, during which crutches may be used and motion therapy will be recommended. The goal of the rehabilitation process is to strengthen both the joint itself and the muscles that support it.