Articular cartilage is a white, smooth tissue that encases the bone ends, at the area where the bones come together and form joints. When you have healthy cartilage, the joints move better, and it allows the bones to glide over each other easily, without friction or pain. However, if there is articular cartilage damage, from wear-and-tear, injury, or trauma, the joint function is altered and painful.
Orthopedic specialists in Phoenix and Scottsdale have developed several surgical techniques that stimulate new growth of cartilage, which is referred to as cartilage regeneration. This is necessary because cartilage does not restore itself very well, and the regeneration process stimulates growth of new cartilage. The best thing about cartilage restoration is that it can delay or prevent the development of painful osteoarthritis and the need for joint replacement.
Surgical techniques for cartilage regeneration are in the early stages of development, and they are still evolving. Researchers and scientists are studying the healing response in cartilage injury, so Phoenix orthopedic surgeons can better restore an injured joint.
Hyaline cartilage is the main component of the joint surface. If this special tissue becomes damaged, the joint surface is no longer smooth, and the bones cannot glide properly due to the rough, damaged joint surface. Damaged hyaline cartilage leads to pain and stiffness of the joints.
For patients who have cartilage damage, the Arizona orthopedic doctor may require a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, as this is not typically seen on an X-ray. It may also be necessary for the orthopedic specialist to do an arthroscopic procedure to assess the cartilage damage. For athletes, in particular, joint injuries occur from cartilage degeneration, and the process is often irreversible and chronic.
Candidates for Cartilage Regeneration
Cartilage regeneration and repair is a treatment for osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee joint. This treatment is recommended for people who have cartilage deterioration or damage from:
- Sports injuries
- Repetitive joint use
- Hormonal disorders, such as osteochondritis dessicans
- Congenital abnormalities
The autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) procedure is an innovative technique used by Phoenix sports medicine orthopedic surgeons to replace worn or damaged cartilage of the knee. ACI is a process where healthy cartilage cells are taken from the knee, cultured in the lab for several weeks, and then new cells form.
These regenerated cells are injected into the damaged joint in a minimally invasive procedure. ACI surgery is an option for patients who have one or more isolated cartilage-loss regions of the knee. This procedure is not appropriate, however, for people with extensive damage of the cartilage.
Additional cartilage restoration procedures include:
- Osteo-articular Transfer Surgery (OATS Procedure)
- Microfacture Procedure
- DeNovo® NT Natural Tissue Graft
Regenerative Medicine Procedures
While an ACI procedure works well for a focal cartilage defect, what do orthopedic doctors in Phoenix do about larger arthritic areas? A microfracture procedure is an option, and it will promote the formation of new cartilage to fill defect areas.
However, the cartilage that comes in is not normal and does not have the longevity of normal cartilage. So it can be a great short term answer.
Regenerative medicine is exponentially increasing in popularity for arthritis in joints all over the body. There are several options for stem cell therapy procedures which include:
- Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP Therapy)
- Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cell Injections
- Amniotic Derived Stem Cell Injections
Smaller studies are showing the benefits of these procedures, and larger studies are currently underway. The materials used include growth factors, stem cells, hyaluronic acid, platelets and more.
Dr. Sumit Dewanjee with FXRX offers a considerable amount of options for cartilage regeneration. If you or a loved one is suffering from joint pain that is not going away, call FXRX today at (480) 449-3979!