Cartilage damage can cause chronic joint pain that reduces mobility and quality of life. It usually occurs with age or due to extreme usage of certain joints (such as participating in sports). If you’re experiencing stiffness, swelling, and painful joints, it may be time to consider joint pain treatment.
There are several options that each require surgery to stimulate new tissue growth or replace damaged cartilage altogether. These cartilage replacement treatments help to relieve symptoms of cartilage damage and help give you back your quality of life.
Types of Cartilage Replacement Treatment
Microfracture and Drilling
Microfracture is a joint pain treatment that repairs damaged cartilage by creating small holes in the joint surface. These tiny holes help promote new cartilage growth. The surgical procedure encourages better blood flow by exposing the bone underneath the joint surface, allowing its richer blood supply to reach the cartilage layer. Better blood flow stimulates cartilage growth, and having more cartilage can prevent joint pain.
In this surgery, doctors make a small incision, remove damaged cartilage, and then use a small pick-shaped tool called an awl to make the microfracture holes. Following the procedure, the patient must take part in rehabilitation for the surgery to be successful. Drilling is a similar surgery, but doctors use a drill to create holes in the joint surface instead of using an awl.
In abrasion arthroplasty, doctors remove old, damaged cartilage to stimulate new cartilage growth. In this surgery, doctors make a small incision and use a small camera to assess the damage inside the afflicted area. Then, using surgical tools, the damaged areas are gently eroded and removed so that as the area heals. As bone marrow stem cells move toward the surface, the body creates new, stronger cartilage tissue. After surgery, doctors will recommend rehabilitation to improve motion and strength.
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation
Another joint pain treatment is Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation. In this procedure, doctors implant new tissue to replace damaged tissue. It usually occurs in two stages. The first procedure involves taking a small piece of cartilage from the patient, which is then sent to a laboratory to be treated. The sample is expanded to create more cartilage.
Doctors then perform another surgery in which they inject the new cartilage in the same spot where the old cartilage was previously removed. Doctors will prescribe physical therapy as a continuation of the treatment process.
Osteochondral Autograft Transplantation
Similar to Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation, this surgical procedure called Osteochondral Autograft Transplantation is a joint pain treatment in which new cartilage replaces old cartilage. However, instead of treating the patient’s own tissue, the new tissue is taken from a donor with undamaged cartilage.
Implant Arthroplasty is a joint replacement procedure in which doctors use an artificial material known as a prosthesis made of manufactured plastic to replace damaged cartilage in a joint. The prosthesis is very similar to human cartilage, with the same density, but is non-degradable to prevent damage.
Surgery is performed to remove old tissue and insert the prosthetic implant. As with other cartilage replacement treatment options, physical therapy and rehabilitation are necessary following the procedure to experience the full benefits of surgery.
How Cartilage Replacement Treatments Can Help
These treatments focus on either promoting new cartilage or replacing old, damaged cartilage with new, better tissue. With ample, healthy cartilage, joint pain will decrease or even disappear. After all, cartilage is essential for the body to cushion joint surfaces and reduce friction in the joints. Cartilage protects your joints, allowing pain-free mobility by preventing bone ends from rubbing against each other.
Diablo Foot and Ankle
If you’re ready to be free from painful joints, cartilage replacement treatments like these may help you. Diablo Foot and Ankle can help you determine what kinds of treatment are best for you and provide specialized care for joint issues. Call us at (925) 464-1982 to set up a consultation appointment.
Common Podiatry Questions
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.
What does a Podiatrist treat?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?
A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.