Articular cartilage is found in all moving joints in the body, and its role is to protect the bones by keeping the surfaces of the bones apart from each other, to absorb shock, and to help make movement smooth. Articular cartilage does this by providing a protective, wear-resistant surface to the end of the moving bones. Articular cartilage is composed of cells made of collagen and proteins. In healthy joints, this unique and durable material allows bones to move against one another with minimal friction.
Articular cartilage is a particular type of cartilage called hyaline cartilage. Hyaline cartilage is a hard, white, shiny material with a unique structure that creates a surface that allows the bones to glide easily past each other. The special nature of this material also makes it particularly vulnerable once it becomes damaged.
When areas of cartilage are worn away or torn away, exposing underlying bone, treatment is designed to fill in the missing area or defect with healthy articular cartilage and provide new protection for the joint surface. Areas of cartilage loss interfere with normal joint mechanics and result in pain and poor joint function in affected individuals.
In addition to patient history and physical evaluation, orthopedic surgeons rely on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to assess the nature of a cartilage injury and formulate a treatment strategy. Advanced MRI technology has been tremendously useful to orthopedic surgeons in detecting articular cartilage lesions before surgery and objectively assessing articular cartilage repair methods in treated patients over time.
If surgery is the treatment you choose, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy afterward. This will help restore mobility to the affected joint. As healing progresses, your therapy will focus on strengthening the joint and the muscles that support it. It may be several months before you can safely return to sports activity, but hopefully, when you do, it will be to a life of less pain and more mobility.
If you have joint pain or other joint problems, schedule an appointment with Dr. Wesley Johnson. He has the experience and expertise to find the right solution for your joint issues.
Read more on this topic online at: http://www.cartilagehealth.com/acr.html