Cartilage Preservation

By Michael L. Adams MD

Cartilage Overview 

Over time, or occasionally with acute injury, we can sustain damage to the end covering of our bones, called Cartilage. Cartilage is a viscoelastic tissue made of collagen, that responds to increasing force loads by increasing its stiffness. With repetitive force, wear can occur resulting in pain and swelling with activity.

The anatomy of the knee joint and cartilage.


Some symptoms of cartilage wear and tear include:

  • Pain in the knee, especially with bending
  • Grinding and popping of the knee with movement
  • Swelling and/or locking with activity


Treatment options range from therapy and over-the-counter pain meds to injection to surgery.

Injections may include cortisone, hyaluronate, and even stem cells in the right candidate.

Surgery is typically done as an outpatient procedure and may range from arthroscopy with microfracture or drilling, to more advanced cartilage replacement techniques such as ACI and OATS. The goal behind surgery is to reestablish cartilage coverage over the area of the tear, allowing the return to sports and other activity in 4-6 months.

If signs of knee pain, catching, popping, and swelling persists for more than 1-2 weeks, patients are encouraged to seek an appointment with their JOI knee specialist.

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