Meniscal cartilage tears are the most common knee problem that require surgery in America. These tears can happen just through daily living without specific trauma. Or they can be the result of a sports or workplace injury.
Once injured, the body's response is pain and swelling. At times, the knee may "lock," "give way," or "go out." The tear causes your weight to be unevenly distributed. As a result, over time the articular cartilage may break down and lead to degenerative arthritis. Our orthopedic surgeons have the technology that allows them to remove only the injured area. Or in some cases, actually preserve and repair the cartilage.
For very small cartilage defects less than 1/4 inch in diameter, we use scar-cartilage regeneration to restore or repair damaged joint surface cartilage.
With the help of a small camera, surgeons can locate damaged tissue and trim away areas of torn cartilage. We can also use this method to carefully create small holes in the uncovered bone, which heal to form a type of cartilage covering that resembles normal articular cartilage. This requires using crutches for several weeks while new scar cartilage grows in over the defect.
Another technique works on the same principle as hair-plug, here surgeons remove a small section of the patient's own bone and cartilage from an area of the knee that doesn't bear weight, and transfers the plug to a damaged portion of the knee.
For larger areas of bone and cartilage loss, surgeons can implant a piece of freshly donated cartilage and bone that eventually functions as if it were the patient's own. Many of our patients with meniscus tears can avoid surgery with a program of physical therapy and medications.
Artificial Joint Fluid
Injections of artificial joint fluid are sometimes used. These fluids, called Viscosupplements, bind to the joint surface to lubricate and cushion your knee. They are designed for Degenerative Joint Disease and represent another treatment option for the pain and swelling of chronic DJD. For patients who wish to consider a non-surgical option, viscosupplementation may give significant--although temporary--relief of pain and swelling.