Arthroscopy & Cartilage Injuries
Cartilage is the smooth white tissue that caps the ends of bones and allows your joints to glide smoothly during activity.
When the cartilage is injured, painful cysts may form. Joints may grind, catch and swell. Spurs and soft tissue may pinch. Flakes of cartilage or bone may stick and rub in the joint.
Many of these problems can be repaired through arthroscopy, a minimally invasive type of surgery that uses very small instruments and a camera inserted through small incisions.
Common problems that benefit from arthroscopic surgery include:
Loose bodies: Loose bodies occur when pieces of cartilage or bone spurs break off and float in the joint. They cause pain when they get caught between the weight-bearing surfaces of a joint. They can cause joint damage by grinding away the joint’s cartilage surface. Most people have rapid recovery after arthroscopy.
Impingement: Impingement occurs when soft tissue or scar tissue builds up around the ankle joint, or when a spur develops, interfering with the joint’s movement. Most people have rapid recovery after arthroscopy.
Osteochondral injury: Osteochondral defects are areas of damaged cartilage in the ankle joint that may occur after a sprain or fracture. They can cause deep ankle pain or catching/locking in the ankle. Using arthroscopy, surgeons can create microfractures that release stem cells from bone to create a fibrocartilage cap, which fills small cartilage lesions and relieves pain. To treat larger lesions, surgeons may graft bone and cartilage to the affected area. Grafting may require open surgery to the ankle. During recovery, you may not put weight on the foot for up to six weeks. It may take several months to return to full activity.