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Torn Cartilage CAN Be Repaired

Dr. Steven Andelman, Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery

June 11, 2021

Torn Cartilage CAN Be Repaired

Find out if you qualify for these cutting-edge, cartilage sparing procedures.

As pandemic restrictions have loosened, many adults and their families have again embraced fresh air, exercise, and activity. Whether you’re a biker or jogger, tennis player or golfer, or a parent chasing after your children, persistent pain in your joints—especially the knee—makes movement difficult to sustain. Sometimes it stems from an old injury; other times it’s simply from overuse. Either way, the common culprit is torn or damaged cartilage.

What Is Torn Cartilage?

Cartilage injuries are very common and can be confirmed by an MRI. Since it protects and cushions your joints, torn cartilage may result in stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion, as the bones grind together. As pain-free movement becomes less frequent, and you find yourself out of commission for longer than you’d like, it becomes increasingly clear that grinning and bearing it is not an effective strategy—and in many cases, not even necessary anymore.

Is Torn Cartilage a Lost Cause?

Many people think there’s nothing you can do for injured cartilage short of a knee replacement. Common advice is to rest out the injury, try the temporary fix of injections, or cut back on the activities that may be keeping you healthy (and sane).

The good news: You might qualify for a cutting-edge procedure performed here at White Plains Hospital. Thanks to recent advancements in surgical techniques, cartilage can either be regrown or re-implanted into the knee. This can be done via a number of different techniques, such as specialists transplanting new cartilage to the injured area, growing your own cartilage in a lab and inserting those cells into the knee, or poking small holes in the injured area to coax your own cells to come out and regrow new cartilage.

High-Tech Become Reality

The matrix method is one exciting option available at White Plains Hospital. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s surgery—two surgeries, to be precise. This procedure, known as MACI (matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation), allows your own cartilage to multiply in a lab.
In the first surgery, surgeons at White Plains Hospital gently extract a small amount of cartilage. Over several weeks, it grows on a special matrix of collagen. The cartilage is then implanted onto a thick, jelly-like sheet, resembling kelp.

In the second surgery, doctors make a small incision at the joint to expose the damaged cartilage, then glue on the new cartilage using a bio adhesive.
How do you know if these procedures are right for you? We look at the overall status of the joint: the presence or absence of other injuries; the size, depth, and location of the injury; the patient’s age, lifestyle, and needs. Our goal with re-growing cartilage is to relieve pain, get patients back into action, or delay the need for a total or partial knee replacement.

The best way to see if you qualify for one of these procedures is to be evaluated by a specially trained orthopedic surgeon. Thanks to these cutting-edge approaches, there’s no need to sacrifice the activities you love or deal with your pain any longer.

Dr. Steven Andelman

Dr. Steven Andelman is an orthopedic surgeon at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates who specializes in adult and pediatric sports medicine. For an appointment, call 914-849-7897.