Joint cartilage is a highly specialized tissue that provides a dynamic interface to joints. The articular cartilage covers the articular ends of the joint bones.
The cartilage has a great capacity to resist, distribute and transmit the compression and shear forces to which the joints are subjected during daily life or sports, due to their special viscoelasticity and their unique properties.
The articular contact surface is smooth at each end and, in addition to the low friction properties of the cartilage, it is perfectly lubricated, which reduces natural friction between surfaces.
The unique properties of knee cartilage have many advantages but also drawbacks: when faced with a traumatic or degenerative injury, the cartilage has little or no repair capacity, which predisposes the affected joint to a degenerative process (osteoarthritis) whose final consequence is pain and loss of joint function.
Diagnosis of knee cartilage injuries
The study with radiography should be the technique to be performed first for the diagnosis of traumatic knee injuries.
The radiographs will allow us to identify alterations of the axis of the legs that have favoured or may compromise the repair of the injury or the result of our treatment.
However, it is not easy to recognize the presence of such an injury in them. The most sensitive and specific test is MRI. In them, we will be able to assess, not only the state of the articular cartilage of the knee, but they can also be seen if there are associated injuries.
Treatment of knee cartilage injuries
The concept of repair today has changed. The aim is to achieve a tissue that is structurally, functionally and histochemically identical to the articular cartilage that it replaces, thus reducing the incidence and prevalence of degenerative traumatic injuries, over the years, in young patients.
This new tissue should integrate seamlessly with the neighbouring tissues within the knee joint, managing to restore the articular friction surface, which must be practically smooth and without any friction.
During the last decades, various surgical procedures have been developed to repair cartilage injuries. The use of chondrocytes and other cells, combined with the development of new biological therapies, such as tissue engineering and gene therapy, may lead to the definitive regeneration of lesions in the short or medium term.
However, it is known that lesions of the entire thickness of the articular cartilage or diffuse lesions of the cartilage of a joint, even today have little capacity for regeneration with current techniques, therefore, research in prevention remains essential.
You might also want to read: Knee ligament injuries
At Harley Street Hospital, we have some of the best specialists to diagnose and treat knee cartilage injuries. Book an appointment to get a checkup.