What are the Different Types of Cartilage Treatment?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 December 2019
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Cartilage problems of different types require a wide range of cartilage treatment in order to restore proper function. In some cases, the problem has to do with some type of cartilage injury sustained during exercise or during an accident. At other times, the cartilage treatment is necessary to help correct a physical defect of some sort. With many of these treatments, there are at least a couple of potential liabilities that come along with the benefits.

One form of cartilage treatment is known as microfracture. This technique is used to help stimulate the body’s ability to grow new cartilage when existing cartilage has been damaged severely. This approach involves penetrating the bone, creating access to the marrow. The marrow cells are then free to move into the damaged area and promote the reproduction of healthy cartilage.

Microfracture is one of the least invasive of all cartilage treatment solutions for replacing damaged cartilage. As such, it normally requires a single surgical session, and the risks of complications are extremely small. At the same time, the new cartilage created from the marrow is not considered to be as enduring as normal cartilage, creating some concerns that additional treatment may be necessary in later years.


Another type of cartilage treatment is the cartilage transfer. With this approach, small plugs of healthy cartilage is harvested from undamaged areas, then transplanted to the site of the damaged cartilage. Like the microfracture process, cartilage transfer helps to stimulate the growth of new cartilage to cover the damaged area. At present, this type of cartilage repair is used on knee joints, and is only considered effective if the damaged area is relatively small.

Cartilage implantation is a treatment that calls for removing healthy cartilage plugs, and growing them outside the body, in a controlled environment. Once the plugs have generated enough cartilage to repair the damaged area, the tissue is transplanted back into the host. As with the transfer approach, implantation is a type of cartilage treatment that is limited in applications, and may not be the best solution in some instances.

When arthritis or a similar ailment has led to deterioration of cartilage, one approach is known as arthroscopic lavage and debridement. This approach can help relieve stress on the joint, and provide at least a measure of relief from the recurring pain. However, this type of treatment does not necessarily work well with all joints, and can sometimes create recurring pain that must be managed.

As modern medicine continues to explore possible solutions for cartilage damage and defects, the scope of treatment is likely to increase. In the interim, it is a good idea to discuss all relevant treatment options with your physician. This includes medications that can help minimize the pain while a permanent solution to the joint problem is identified and implemented.



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