Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
Many people are familiar with the symptoms of sprains and strains. Many of us have also experienced bone fractures, unfortunately. Cartilage injuries, however – though quite common – are often misunderstood or misidentified. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of cartilage injury, as this type of injury may require medical attention.
Types of Cartilage Injuries
Articular cartilage is a smooth material that acts as a cushion between bones. Cartilage is what allows us to jump, throw a ball, and cycle without experiencing the painful impact of bones rubbing up against each other. (Of course, pain in these activities is quite common: osteoarthritis is a disease in which articular cartilage breaks down and wears away, causing painful movement in the joints.)
Cartilage injuries typically occur in the elbow, shoulder, hip, and knee. A “meniscal tear” is one type of common cartilage injury (in the knee) that you may have heard of.
Symptoms & Causes of Cartilage Injury
Common symptoms of cartilage injury include swelling, stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion in the joint. The injury may be caused suddenly by a fall or impact. Or, the injury may develop slowly over time, as is the case with osteoarthritis. Less frequently, a cartilage injury may be caused by infection.
Evaluation & Treatment of Cartilage Injury
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and those symptoms are not going away with at-home RICE therapy, consider scheduling an appointment with your Houston orthopedic physician. Your physician will evaluate your joint strength and range of motion, as well as your medical history, to attempt a diagnosis.
If your symptoms do suggest cartilage injury, then non-surgical therapies, such as NSAIDs and physiotherapy, may be used. If these first-line therapies are insufficient, then surgery may be required. Today’s minimally invasive knee replacement and hip replacement procedures are commonly used to treat moderate to severe cartilage injury. Depending on the patient and the surgery technique, a full recovery of joint strength and motion could be possible.
Joint Pain? Get Evaluated. Contact A Houston Orthopedic Physician.
If you suffer from joint pain in the hip, knee, elbow, shoulder, or elsewhere, contact a Houston orthopedic physician for an evaluation. You can schedule your appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics online. Choose between our downtown Houston location and our office in Houston Heights. Call (713) 756-5546 today.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.