Cartilage damage is super common, especially among athletes. Each of the body’s joints rely on cartilage to provide shock absorption and a soft cushioning that allows for smooth and comfortable movements. Sometimes the cartilage wears away over time, due to things like age, poor posture and alignment, excessive weight, or overuse. In other cases, cartilage becomes damaged by a sudden trauma, which is the case for many sport-specific cartilage injuries.
Although cartilage can be damaged in any joint, it most often affects the knee. We see this regularly at MOTUS, particularly in athletes who play sports with lots of pressure and impact on the knees. Soccer players are at high risk of these injuries, as are football and basketball players.
When an athlete has experienced a trauma that has injured their cartilage, microfracture surgery is one of the options we consider for their rehabilitation. The procedure works by accessing the deeper layers of the bone to stimulate new cartilage growth.
Cartilage can’t regrow on its own, because it doesn’t have any of its own blood vessels. The outermost layer of bone, known as the subchondral bone, also has poor blood flow. Without the opportunity to bring oxygenated red blood cells to the injured tissue, there’s no way for the cartilage to heal itself.
A microfracture surgery works around this issue by accessing the deeper part of the bone, which does have a good blood supply, so that it can deliver the circulation needed to stimulate new growth. It’s a simple concept, and a pretty simple arthroscopic procedure. The surgeon makes several tiny penetrations, or microfractures, through the subchondral bone, which allows the deeper part of the bone to access the surface of the joint.
Microfracture surgery is a good option for patients who are dealing with cartilage damage in a single, specific area, as opposed to widespread damage from age or a condition like arthritis. It’s ideal for people who are already active, so it’s a great fit for our clients at MOTUS. Many athletes also prefer it for its simplicity, low risk, and lower cost.
The key to making microfracture surgery successful is careful and intentional rehabilitation. Usually crutches are required for the first six weeks or so after surgery. A patient needs to protect the treated area, but still work on maintaining strength and mobility in the knee joint.
Our team at MOTUS has helped plenty of patients recover from knee surgeries like microfracture surgery. With our innovative tools and physical therapy programs, it’s possible to return to your full performance potential.