Knee Cartilage Repair

Cartilage is the slippery coating on the bones in your joints. It can get damaged or torn as a result of wear and tear, repetitive actions in sport or at work, or due to a traumatic injury.

At Capital Orthopaedics, our team of consultant orthopaedic surgeons, radiologists, physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals have specialist expertise in diagnosing and treating knee cartilage damage.

Treatment for cartilage damage depends on the severity of the condition, your age and your activity level. Torn cartilage can lead to other knee problems, including arthritis, so it is important to get a diagnosis if you have any knee stiffness, joint pain or swelling. Contact us here for an appointment.

Knee cartilage damage repair is carried out using keyhole or arthroscopic surgery to ensure minimal impact on other structures of your knee.

Surgical cartilage repair can involve smoothing and trimming torn or jagged pieces of cartilage. In some cases, prosthetic parts may be used to replace worn-down cartilage and bone (knee replacement surgery).

Why Would I Need Knee Cartilage Surgery?

If you have torn the articular cartilage in your knee joint, and it affects your range of motion, ability to carry on your sport, work of everyday activities, you will need treatment.

Knee cartilage surgery will be recommended if conservative methods including physiotherapy have not improved symptoms.

You may also need knee cartilage repair if the damage is so severe that you cannot put weight on your leg – for example, if the torn cartilage is catching on other structures of your knee joint, causing pain, inflammation and muscle wasting.

Cartilage repair is usually offered if you are:

  • Under the age of 40
  • Active
  • Have had pain for months, not years
  • Have pain at rest
  • Do not have problems with knee alignment
  • Have a localised cartilage damage

Are There Alternatives to Surgery?

Many people with damage to articular cartilage in the knee respond well to non-surgical treatments including:

  • Physiotherapy
  • NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Injections – steroids to reduce inflammation and PRP and other cellular injections to stimulate healing
  • Acupuncture

You may also be advised to change activities – transitioning from running to cycling or swimming, for example. Changing to more supportive footwear can also help to reduce the pain and discomfort of cartilage damage.

Our consultant surgeons will always recommend the least invasive treatment for your knee condition. However, if your symptoms do not improve, surgery is carried out by highly experienced orthopaedic surgeons with an excellent success rate.

Arthroscopy for Articular Cartilage Damage

The cartilage that coats your bones is called articular cartilage. In almost all cases, your surgeon will carry out a cartilage repair operation arthroscopically – using a tiny camera view the inside of your knee on a monitor.

Small surgical instruments are used to remove, trim or smooth cartilage with precision, reducing the impact on other structures of your knee.

How to Prepare for Knee Cartilage Surgery

It’s a good idea to build up strength and flexibility before your knee operation. Our consultants and physiotherapists can advise on the best types of exercises.

You won’t be able to eat or drink anything for 6-12 hours before surgery.

What to Expect During Knee Cartilage Surgery

You will be given a general anaesthetic and the operation takes about 45 minutes, depending on the extent of the damage.

Your surgeon will make a series of small incisions over your knee and insert a camera on a flexible tube, then use special tools to repair the cartilage.

They may also make small abrasions in the bone surface underneath the cartilage to increase blood flow and stimulate new cartilage growth.

Regenerative or stem cell treatment

Cartilage regeneration treatment ranges from microfracture surgery, where any exposed bone is very carefully drilled to release ‘stem cells’ from your knee to alternative cellular treatments, including fat and bone marrow-derived stem cells.

Recovering From Knee Cartilage Surgery

You may not be able to fully weight bear until four weeks after surgery, although you should be able to drive after week two.

In the first week, your rehabilitation will focus on increasing your range of motion through manual manipulation and gentle exercises.

From then on, the physiotherapy programme will work on improving strength and mobility.

Most people are able to return to physical activity after six weeks, but it can take three to six months before you can fully recover.

Physiotherapy is very important in the recovery period, as building up the muscles and mobility is key to the long-term effectiveness of cartilage repair.

Book an Appointment with Capital Orthopaedics

If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, our team of specialists has the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to get you back to being active – quickly and with the best long-term outcomes.

To book an appointment in one of our central London locations, contact us here.

Knee Conditions We Treat

Cartilage Damage: the slippery cartilage that coats the bones in your knee joint can get torn as a result of an impact, a wrenching movement, repetitive actions or wear and tear. It can cause problems with mobility, pain, swelling and can lead to arthritis if left untreated. We treat cartilage damage with physiotherapy, injection therapy and arthroscopic surgery.

ACL Tears: a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament can be caused by a sharp twisting motion, an impact or by a sudden force through a bent knee. It leads to symptoms of pain, swelling and instability. ACL tears can be treated with physiotherapy or keyhole surgery.

Torn Meniscus: the semi-circular rubbery pads in your knee joint provide cushioning. They can get torn as a result of twisting injuries, or an impact on the knee joint. Minor tears can be managed with physical therapy, while more severe tears may be repaired or removed using minimally invasive keyhole surgery.

Knee Fractures: a fracture to any of the bones of the knee can occur as a result of a major impact, or severe wrenching action. Other injuries to soft tissues often occur at the same time, so a careful diagnosis is needed. Some fractures require stabilisation while they heal (usually six weeks), but displaced or shattered bone will require surgery.

Knee Arthritis: the slippery cartilage that coats the bones in your knee joint can wear away as a result of a traumatic injury or wear and tear over time. Exposed bone surfaces in the joint lead to pain, stiffness and swelling. Arthritis can be treated effectively with physiotherapy and injection therapy in the early stages, while more severe cases can be resolved with minimally invasive surgery or replacing the damaged bone with prosthetic parts (knee replacement).

Book an Appointment with an Orthopaedic Specialist

The Capital Orthopaedics team is made up of highly experienced medical professionals – from Mr Simon Moyes, the renowned orthopaedic consultant surgeon, to physicians, nurses, anaesthetists and physiotherapists.
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