Conditions » Cartilage Defects
What is a Cartilage Defects?
You might have hit your knee or elbow while playing or exercising and ignored the joint injury assuming it would heal itself. The good thing is it might heal on its own, but in some cases, you may hit your cartilage and damaged it. Ignored arthritis also causes cartilage defects. Cartilage defect usually occurs due to some trauma and may also occur due to arthritis. Cartilage damage is a common condition that can occur in patients with osteoarthritis. It often involves the knees, although joints such as the hips, ankles, and elbows can also be affected by cartilage defects.
Cartilage is a firm tissue but softer and flexible than bone. Cartilage is a connective tissue found in different areas of the body including
- Joints between bones, e.g., the elbows, knees, and ankles
- Ends of the ribs
- Between the vertebrae in the spine
- Ears and nose
- Bronchial tubes or airways
Symptoms of Cartilage defects
The diagnosis and treatment of cartilage defects are challenging. Articular cartilage injuries are common and have the potential to progress to osteoarthritis if left untreated. Symptoms of cartilage defects include:
- joint pain
- the joint locking, catching or giving way
- a clicking or grinding sensation
Causes of Cartilage defects
Cartilage defects occur due to several reasons like age, pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, and birth abnormalities. These can also occur from an acute injury to the knee or an underlying disorder of the bone. Cartilage defects are different than arthritis, and treatments are significantly different as well. An isolated cartilage defect like present in ears, without any underlying bone attached to the fragment, is not commonly repairable. The cartilage is often unable to survive when detached from the bone and, therefore, must be removed, which can be done with an arthroscopic procedure. However, the exposed bone should be treated to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. If you injure your joint go to your orthopedic early before you damage your cartilage or bone.
Cartilage defects explained
The cartilage defect is quite different than muscle or bone defects because it has no nerves. You do not feel pain in any defective cartilage unless it affects the underlying bone. There are mainly three different types of cartilage present in the human body.
- Elastic cartilage is flexible cartilage and found in ears and nose
- Hyaline cartilage is smooth yet tough, with minimal flexibility that allows the joint smoothly.
- Fibrocartilage, this cartilage is robust and flexible but not smooth
Cartilage is made up of cells known as chondrocytes. When other tissues are damaged, the tissue cells can multiply themselves and heal the damaged tissue. Still, the cartilage is unable to repair itself because the chondrocytes are found in a thick, complex matrix with no supply of blood to the cells.
After losing the most of your cartilage, your underlying bones get exposed and begin to rub against each other. You start feeling the pain now after most of the damage is done. Doctors can only medicate the pain when most of the cartilage is gone. Also, some procedures are done to re-grow the cartilage, one of which is known as microfracture.
The procedure is quite delicate and needs optimum conditions to be successful. Therefore certain precautions will need to be followed after surgery to protect this area. The problem with microfracture is the growth is slow, and the developed cartilage is not as smooth as the hyaline cartilage. It is more like the fibrocartilage, just like a scared tissue. The grown cartilage is not soft, thus limiting the joint activity.
Another repair technique followed by doctors is grafting a plug of bone and cartilage and implanting it into the damaged cartilage. The problem with this procedure is your body may reject another person’s tissue.
Stem cell therapy for cartilage defects
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the utilization of biologically active cells as an alternative to surgical treatment. The new technique of regenerative medicine can heal the patient’s cartilage with the stem cells.
Biological advancement has come up with stem cell therapy that can help to repair the damaged cartilage. The mesenchymal cells (MSCs) from the fat cells can develop and rebuild into cartilage and bones. Cartilage cells are taken from one part of the body and can be injected into the damaged cartilage area. It is a procedure that can decrease inflammation, slow and repair all these forms of damage from arthritis, and delay or prevent knee replacement surgery. The treatment is safe with a more substantial probability of cartilage regrowth. The adult stem cells are injected to maintain and heal tissues by replenishing damaged and dying cells.
Shifa rejuvenation for regenerative cartilage repair
Shifa rejuvenation has touched another milestone in regenerative medication by providing one of the rarely treated ailments with patients of osteoarthritis in Pakistan. Many clinical trials have shown the improvement in damaged knee cartilages within a period of 6 to 8 weeks. MSCs have been found to improve clinical symptoms such as pain, disability, and physical function in patients with cartilage defects.
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