What is Articular Cartilage Damage?
Healthy articular cartilage allows joints within the human body to move easily and without pain. Articular cartilage is a special tissue that lines the end of each bone in a joint. Cartilage allows the bones within the knee joint to glide over each other with limited friction during activities of daily living and sports. The knee’s articular cartilage can become damaged through normal wear and tear or by a direct injury. A knee cartilage injury has limited healing capabilities due to limited blood supply and oxygenation. Therefore, it can lead to joint pain and dysfunction. Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area orthopedic knee surgeon, Dr. Jervis Yau specializes in a cartilage restoration procedure called microfracture surgery.
What is Microfracture Surgery?
Microfracture is a technique where Dr. Yau stimulates growth factors and cells from within the bone to fill in an area of articular injury. This is typically limited to small lesions. The procedure involves drilling multiple small holes within the subchondral bone of the articular defect. These holes allow for the cells and growth factors within the bone marrow to fill the defect with healing material. This healing material typically results in growth of “fibrocartilage” within the defect. Although not as strong and efficient as normal “hyaline” cartilage, fibrocartilage can be very effective in restoring normal knee function and minimize pain.
Who Should Have Microfracture?
It is important to note that cartilage repair procedures are not suited for everyone with an articular cartilage injury. In general, microfracture helps prolong the function of the knee and may delay the development of painful osteoarthritis, but it does not cure it.