Cartilage Damage: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments

Cartilage Damage: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments, TPL Orthopedics and Sports MedicineCartilage damage can cause stiffness, pain and inflammation in the joint. In case of severe damage, the surgeon will have to perform cartilage repair or removal to restore the joint function. Dedicated and judicious board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven Thomas and Dr. Gregory Bigler provide treatments for cartilage damage to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada and surrounding locations in the Silver State.



Damage to the cartilage may occur due to a direct blow or heavy impact due to a fall or an accident. Sportspersons are a higher risk of articular damage. Wear and tear of the joint due to a prolonged period of stress can lead to cartilage damage. Osteoarthritis may cause inflammation, breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Extended periods of inactivity or immobility also increase the risk of cartilage damage.



Symptoms of cartilage damage and ligament damage are similar. Therefore, in addition to a physical exam, the orthopedic surgeon may order the following diagnostic tests:


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

The test provides detailed images of the affected site. However, in some cases, an MRI may not be able to detect cartilage damage.



In this case an arthroscope is inserted into the joint to examine the damage on a monitor and repair it. The extent of cartilage damage can be determined more accurately with arthroscopy.




Surgery is reserved as the last option to treat cartilage damage. Some patients may respond well to conservative, non-surgical treatments. These may include special exercises, NSAIDs, and in a few cases, steroid injections. If the damage is limited, the patient may only need to go through a physical therapy program or do some exercises at home.


Surgical Options

If the patient fails to respond to non-surgical treatments, they will require a surgery. The appropriate surgical option will be recommended according to the age and activity level of the patient, the size of the lesion, and the age of the injury.



This involves smoothing the damaged cartilage and removal of loose edges to avoid irritating and rubbing against other body parts. Small arthroscopic instruments may be used to perform this procedure.


Marrow Stimulation

The orthopedic surgeon will drill small holes under the damaged cartilage to expose the blood vessels that lie inside the bone. Blood clot formation inside the cartilage will occur, triggering the production of new cartilage. However, the new cartilage may not have similar strength and suppleness as the original cartilage.



In this procedure, the surgeon will remove healthy cartilage from one site and move it to the damaged area. If the damage is extensive due to osteoarthritis, this procedure may not be helpful. Mosaicplasty is used only where the cartilage damage occurs in isolated sites, typically limited to 10 to 20 mm in size. Patients below the age of 50 who have suffered minor damage due to an injury often make ideal candidates for this procedure.

Patients in Las Vegas, Nevada and other communities and towns in this area of the country have an opportunity to receive treatments for cartilage damage from the hardworking and fabulous board certified orthopedic surgeons at the Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. call (702) 933-9393; Physical Therapy (702) 933-9393.

Spread the love

Comments are closed.