About Knee Cartilage

Your knee is under a lot of pressure, so it’s no wonder that just one false move can result in injury to the ligaments and cartilage in the joint. Cartilage is the surface on the ends of the bones in your knee that allow the joint’s surfaces to glide friction-free.

Symptoms of knee cartilage injuries include pain, swelling, popping in the joint and locking of the joint. Daily activities such as sitting down, standing up, or walking up stairs may become difficult. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment options available to help alleviate your symptoms.

Causes of Cartilage Injuries

Knee cartilage may be injured through activity, trauma, or a disease such as osteochondritis dessicans that affects the bone beneath the cartilage and causes the overlaying cartilage to “blister.” These types of injuries are called focal defects because they usually affect a portion of the cartilage in that joint.

Types of Knee Cartilage Injuries

These injuries are caused by short, intensive, non-physiological strain on the joint and as a result, pieces of cartilage become detached from the joint surface. The depth of these lesions can vary, and not everyone affected complains of pain, although the cartilage is already damaged. This condition often affects young, active people who can subject their joints to non-physiological strain either during sport or in normal daily activity.

Osteochondritis Dessicans is the name of a bone disease that occurs most frequently in youths and young adults. When individual areas of the bone are affected, the cartilage covering these areas can also become diseased. This results in the affected section of cartilage becoming detached and forming a free body within the joint, leaving a lesion that reaches down into the bone. Left untreated, this may lead to longer term degenerative cartilage defects. These defects differ from focal defects in that they usually affect all of the cartilage in the joint.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative cartilage defect that develops from wear and tear of the cartilage surface as part of the aging process. The cartilage surface gradually becomes rough and is then slowly worn away over a long period of time, until finally bone is rubbing against bone. At this point, the treatment usually involves replacing the joint with an artificial knee. Discover more information about knee replacement.

Why Cartilage Doesn’t Heal Itself

If you cut your finger, the wound heals within a few days or weeks as the skin can regenerate itself. It is different in the case of cartilage. The hyaline cartilage in a healthy knee joint is the most common type of cartilage in the body and is specially designed for absorbing shock and providing a friction-free surface. It is a tissue which contains a small number of cartilage cells (chondrocytes) by volume. These are responsible for the formation of cartilage tissue.

As in contrast to many other tissues in the body, cartilage is not supplied by blood vessels or nerves, which means that following an injury or disease-related changes, it only has a small capacity to heal itself. In the long term, the resulting repair tissue cannot withstand the stress placed on it as it does not possess the low-friction surface, and impact and pressure absorption of healthy joint cartilage. Even though cartilage may be unable to heal quickly and may have long lasting damage, there are many forms of treatment available for cartilage regeneration and symptom relief.

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Understanding Allograft Cartilage Transplants

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Articular cartilage is a firm rubbery tissue that covers the ends of bones. It provides a smooth gliding surface for joints and acts as a cushion between bones.Cartilage can break down due to overuse or injury. This can lead to pain and swelling and problems with your joint.

Your treatment will depend on the size of the defect and the judgment of your surgeon. This procedure is performed on people who have a specific cartilage defect typically due to an injury. It is not done when cartilage loss is much more extensive.

A plug of allograft tissue containing bone and cartilage is shaped to fit into the area that is damaged. The damaged area is prepared and the new plug is inserted into the site.

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JRF Ortho specializes in providing orthopedic surgeons with the highest viability, most widely available cartilage solutions in the industry. Our goal is to provide innovative solutions for allograft joint repair to orthopedic surgeons who specialize in helping patients regain movement and improve their quality of life; thus, JRF Ortho is redefining the standard for allograft joint repair and maximizing the gift of donation.

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Ask the Doctor!

This regular segment of ‘Ask the Doctor’ addresses questions submitted by Sports Medicine Weekly followers. Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph is sitting in for Dr. Brian Cole from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush and will be discussing

  • Young Female Athletes and the Risk of Knee injuries 
  • Failure Rates Post ACL Surgery as well as Re-tear Rates

Sports Medicine Weekly on 670 The Score

If you have a question to be addressed on an upcoming show, please click here to submit your question.

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Benefits of allograft tissue transplants outweigh risks

Patients need not be afraid of receiving musculoskeletal allograft tissue transplants, but doctors have a responsibility to seek grafts from tissue banks that follow best known practices, such as those accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), said Gary E. Friedlaender, MD, at a Thursday afternoon media briefing on the topic of allograft safety.

“The risks from allografts are low and the benefits are impressively high,” said Dr. Friedlaender, chair of the department of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at the Yale University School of Medicine and chair of the AAOS Tissue Banking Project Team. “More than 800,000 grafts are performed in the United States each year, with few complications.”

Learn more about Allograft tissue transplants at JRF Ortho


“Allografts are most frequently used to accomplish bone fusions, improve the quality of bone in revision hip and knee replacement procedures, restore bone lost during injury or following removal of tumors, and promote the healing of fractures,” Dr. Friedlaender, explained.

The use of an allograft eliminates the need for a second surgery site to recover an autograft – a graft taken from the recipient’s own body – as well as the need to sacrifice a normal structure in one place for use in another location.

“This reduces the potential for complications arising from having an additional surgical procedure, and thereby results in less blood loss, less pain and a quicker recovery time,” he added.


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