What is articular cartilage?
Articular cartilage, also known as hyaline cartilage, is a very smooth yet hard material made up of the protein collagen. The cartilage is located on a bone’s articulating surfaces (surfaces of a bone that come in contact with other bones). It allows for the smooth interaction between two bones in a joint.
How does articular cartilage get injured?
Damage can result in the articular cartilage as an isolated incident or occur due to another knee injury. ACL (articular cartilage ligament) injuries are commonly associated with damage to the medial (inner) and lateral (outer) surfaces of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). This is because one function of the ACL is to prevent the knee from rotating. If the ACL is torn during a twisting movement, the articulating surfaces of the femur and tibia become damaged.
Many injuries come from a forceful impact on the knee joint such as a football tackle.
Articular Cartilage Regeneration and Repair
Articular cartilage cannot be regenerated currently, but repairing the damaged area is possible. Many new medical procedures are designed to “fill in the holes” of the damage caused, but even after this the tissue isn’t exactly the same as the natural tissue before the injury. The repair may resemble hyaline cartilage, but doesn’t work the same. So while a tear cannot be restored, it can be repaired.
While an articular cartilage tear isn’t life threatening, it can significantly affect the quality of life of the person with the injury. Pain, swelling of tissues, restricted activities, and reduced mobility are common with articular cartilage tears. By repairing the tissue after damaging the articular cartilage, these negative effects can be greatly reduced.