Understanding the Basics Behind Cartilage Restoration/Repair
What is Cartilage Restoration/Repair?
Knee pain and injuries are one of the most common reasons why a person would visit a doctor.
A somewhat common issue that our providers see at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance are issues with knee cartilage, which is the joint surface that covers the ends of the bones. Your knee cartilage is important for the smooth motion of the leg, and it acts as a cushion that protects your bones.
When this cartilage tears, it’s both painful and can lead to a loss of function as well as long-term complications such as osteoarthritis. These tears are called lesions, and one of the ways that the providers at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance treat these lesions is through Matrix-Induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation surgery (MACI).
Regardless of your knee issues, the providers at KCOA are adept at finding the necessary treatments to correct the problem. Our expert orthopedic knee physicians at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance have the knowledge required to treat numerous issues, both surgically and non-surgically. When you visit a specialist at KCOA, we focus on creating a treatment plan based on your specific conditions, symptoms, and recovery goals. Depending on your individual needs, we may recommend MACI as a treatment option.
Common signs of a cartilage lesions include:
- Aching within the joint
- Pain when twisting or rotating the knee
- Popping or grinding noises with movement
- A locking sensation when attempting to move your knee
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance Knee & Leg Injuries Assessment
Assessing the Injury
Determining the proper treatment process for knee and leg injuries starts with an assessment from one of our experienced providers.
You can think of knee pain as a spectrum, with some instances being more severe than others. The KCOA orthopedic specialists always focus on each individual patient and their concerns before creating a treatment plan.
Therefore, during your initial appointment, we will often ask questions such as:
From there, we can decide what treatment option will align best with your needs and lifestyle goals. Once we’ve completed a proper assessment, your provider will often begin with a physical examination to help determine the origin point of your pain. In some cases, advanced testing may be required for a full diagnosis.
- Does your pain currently limit you or your activities?
- Has your pain progressed or worsened recently?
- Did you notice or hear a popping sound at the time of your injury?
- Are you having any clicking/popping, grinding or catching/locking sensations in the joint?
- Have you noticed any change in your symptoms that has made it more challenging to function?
- What are your lifestyle goals?
- How has pain affected those goals?
Also called radiographs, an X-ray captures a picture of the knee. Orthopedic physicians may order an X-ray to rule out the possibility of a fracture (broken bone), osteoarthritis, or other bone-related conditions.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI captures images of muscles, bones, cartilage, and tendons to help provide information other tests can’t detail. During an MRI, you will lie on a table that slides into a tube-shaped scanner. The machine creates a magnetic field around you, using pulsed radio waves to form the MRI images.
A computerized tomography (CT) scan can provide a series of X-ray images taken from the ankle, showing the bones, blood vessels, and soft tissue in your body. This, ultimately, provides more detailed information than a regular X-Ray.
Establishing a Care Plan
Based on the results of your interview, examination, and imaging studies, you can expect a custom care plan catered specifically to you.
Many people believe it’s best to wait until pain becomes severe, leading them to “put off” or delay treatments like a MACI procedure in Kansas City.
If you are in constant discomfort, have shooting or stabbing pains, have limited range of motion, or an inability to perform your daily activities, cartilage restoration treatments may be right for you.
New technologies allow patients with severe knee pain to fully recover and enjoy the benefits of a more functional, pain-free lifestyle.
Prior to surgery, you will typically receive at least 2 phone calls:
- A hospital registration representative will call to gather insurance and other personal information.
- A registered nurse will call to review your health history and medication information.
Dependent on your health history, your physician may require:
- Pre-surgical laboratory tests
- Primary care clearance
Pre-operative instructions will vary depending on your physician and the location of your surgery.
Always check with your physician before surgery for specific instructions.
Most physicians require that patients not eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery.
Additionally, you will need to designate a family member or friend to drive you home on the day you are released from the hospital. Surgical patients cannot drive themselves home.
Day of Surgery
If you schedule your surgery with a KCOA physician, you can expect the following on surgery day:
- A receptionist will check you in at the hospital registration desk.
- A nurse will take you back and prepare you for surgery. They will start an IV, prepare the surgical site, and review your medical history and medications.
- Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will visit with you prior to your operation.
- The surgical team will take you to the operation suite for surgery.
How it Works
If your provider recommends a MACI procedure to restore and repair your knee cartilage, there are a few different things you should expect. The idea with a MACI procedure, as well as all other treatments for knee issues at KCOA, is to restore function and decrease pain. Patients may find a MACI procedure beneficial if daily tasks or physical activity become too challenging.
Your provider will consider factors such as your age, activity level, lifestyle, and more when determining which treatment is right for you. Otherwise-healthy patients with lesions in their knee cartilage or instability of the patella (kneecap) are generally the best candidates for a MACI procedure.
How it Works: Stage I
With a MACI procedure, your orthopedic surgeons use cells from your own body to restore and regenerate the cartilage within your knee. This makes it a two part procedure, which starts with a biopsy that involves harvesting small amounts of the cartilage, allowing it to grow and multiply in a lab, and implanting it back into the knee.
Your surgeon will perform a biopsy and remove small parts of the damaged cartilage from the knee. The tissue cells collected during the biopsy are sent to a lab to grow and multiply on a collagen matrix. The first stage of the process takes roughly one month to complete. However, the initial procedure to harvest the cells may only take about 30 minutes. Your provider will likely provide crutches after this potion to use for at least a few days. Most patients can bear weight and even return to work within a short time.
How it Works: Stage II
After 4 to 6 weeks, the second stage of the procedure will take place. During this time, the new cartilage has grown and multiplied, and your orthopedic surgeon will implant that cartilage back into your knee. The membrane holding the new cartilage will be customized to match the exact size and shape of the area with defective cartilage.
Over time, the cells will detach from the membrane and fuse with the proteins within your knee cartilage, ultimately fixing your defect.
Post-Op & What to Expect
A patient’s recovery plan and timeline will vary based on a variety of factors, including age, activity level, goals, and more. However, taking care of your body is essential to ensure optimal results.
Following your procedure, patients will likely experience swelling, bruising, and possible numbness in the treatment area. Rest and ice will be critical immediately following surgery. Your provider may also provide you with pain medications, crutches, a brace, and more.
The full recovery timeline will likely take multiple weeks, depending on the extent of the repair, your response to treatment, and your goals post-procedure. To see the best results from your treatment, strict adherence to your recovery plan will be crucial. This can include physical therapy, rehab, rest, icing, and more.
Common Signs and Symptoms of MACI Injuries
With so many different structures working together in your knees, there are many potential causes of pain. And each of those causes has a unique set of symptoms.
Proper cartilage restoration techniques can help treat your issues. Though you can treat many knee issues with conservative measures and non-surgical options, sometimes surgery may be necessary if the patient’s knee doesn’t respond to these treatments. Knee injuries can also degenerate based on certain risk factors, such as age, activity level, whether or not you’re obese, and more.
Common Causes of MACI Injuries
The body has different kinds of joints, and they all face different challenges.
The severity of your knee and leg pain can vary based on a number of factors, including the location and the source of the issue. The knee is a very vulnerable joint in your body that’s susceptible to injury from a forceful motion, as well as the wear and tear that builds up over the years.
Your knee relies on a number of structures to function, including bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. As the years go on, many people struggle with the effects of repeated movements, such as walking, running, or jumping. Additionally sudden movements like pivoting, bending, or twisting can result in injuries that require treatment from an orthopedic specialist in Kansas City.
In most cases, surgery is not the first option for treatment at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance. If we can treat your knee and leg issues with more conservative treatments, we’ll choose those options. We typically exhaust all non-surgical options prior to recommending surgery. Non-surgical treatments for meniscus injuries include:
Movement can actually reduce pain and encourage healing in the meniscus, as movement increases circulation and supplies and other nutrients that support joint health and function. Stretching and flexibility exercises, strengthening exercises, deep tissue massages, and cryotherapy (use of cold packs) are particularly helpful.
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil) or prescription medications. Especially with NSAIDs, you should always talk to your doctor to ensure they are the right treatment for you.
Stabilization involves the use of braces or other supportive devices to reduce stress and allow the affected area to heal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance is here to help.
Our care is personal. Our team is knowledgeable. And we’re more available than ever.
With access to board-certified specialists across Kansas City, we have the tools to meet almost every musculoskeletal condition.
Overland Park, Kansas10777 Nall Ave Suite 300 Overland Park, KS 66211
Leawood, Kansas3651 College Blvd. Leawood, KS 66211
Kansas City, MissouriSaint Luke's Medical Plaza #1 4320 Wornall Rd., Ste. 610 Kansas City, MO 64111
Belton, MissouriBelton Regional Campus 17067 S Outer Rd #301 Belton, MO 64012
Merriam, Kansas7450 W. Frontage Rd Merriam, KS 66203
This place is amazing! I cannot say enough good things about our experience here! From the reception desk where they were beyond helpful and even made phone calls for me to my kids pediatrician to very short wait time then the patience and help of doctors and staff that were great with my 3 year old! Getting same day service this great was so nice! Love this place and highly recommend!!
Great people who are very willing to help you work through the best way to handle your injury.
Very knowledgeable! They answered all my questions thoroughly and accurately! Very professional!
6 weeks post op and Dr. Brown says I’m progressing well. She’s very knowledgeable, and is very quick to answer any questions I have. She’s also very personable, we laughed a lot during my last appointment. Looking forward to seeing her again.