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Tanner Clinic,

Robert S. Rice, MD.

Sports Surgeon Utah

Cartilage

Injuries to the cartilage of the knee are fairly rare. Knee cartilage is the smooth firm covering of the bones that allows for the gliding movement of the joint. When the cartilage is injured the result can be instability, swelling, catching, and pain of the knee joint. Unfortunately, the cartilage in our joints does not possess the ability to repair itself. In order to restore the smooth joint surface and normal function of the reparative surgery can be performed.

There are several procedures currently utilized to surgically repair injured cartilage. In all techniques, the goal is to provide covering cartilage that restores the normal smooth surface of the knee allowing return to normal activity. These techniques range from drilling holes in the bone to access bone marrow stem cells, to transfer of cartilage from other areas within the knee, to obtaining cartilage from a donor.

Each cartilage injury is different and the size, shape, and location of the injury determine which technique is best employed. Just as each surgical procedure is different, so are the post-surgical recovery and restrictions. Just as important as the surgical repair is the post-operative rehabilitation in achieving full knee recovery and function. Some of the procedures allow for immediate weight bearing (walking), while others require a period of crutch use with the leg protected from weight. Physical therapy is an integral piece in the recovery process.

Most patients will work with their therapist for approximately three months following the operation. Physical therapy assists with swelling reduction, range of motion and strength return, and balance training. When full recovery from ACL surgery is achieved, it is anticipated that patients will be able to return to all of their normal activities.