Cartilage is quite an incredible substance. It is quite flexible and strong at the same time. Adults have the ability to move their bones without causing any injury.
However, while taking care of the bones, the cartilage can also get damages. The problem is that in case of adults, the articular cartilage doesn’t regrow. It doesn’t heal on its own, since there are no blood vessels. Oxygenated red blood cells are not able to reach the damaged tissues.
In the recent times, experts have found a few ways by which damage to the cartilage can be repaired or the cartilage can be regenerated. It is also known that a small kind of transplant is also possible.
These treatment methods are usually applicable to any joint which has articular cartilage; these are generally used in case of knee joint.
It is to be kept in mind that all efforts for regeneration or restoring cartilage is best for young patients, who suffer from minor cartilage injuries or injuries which are quite new. It should be noted that regeneration, repair or transplant is not suitable for anyone who has extensively damaged cartilage due to osteoarthritis.
In case the cartilage is frayed or torn, the doctors can use a minimally invasive technique, which helps in sculpting the cartilage with the use of special tools. This helps in reducing joint friction. It also helps in moving away loose bits by flushing the joint.
We know that articular cartilage does not heal itself or it is not capable of regrowing also. However, the bone tissues located just below this can easily heal. Thus, if small abrasions and cuts are made to the bone, just below the damaged cartilage, Doctors can actually stimulate new growth. In several cases, the damaged cartilage is cleared away for this procedure. The knee meniscus is also this cartilage. However, it cannot be regenerated like the articular cartilage.
In this case, small plugs of a healthy cartilage are usually implanted in the damaged area. These plugs are used in conjunction or individually which depends on the location and size of the damage. Another transplant option involves extracting cartilage. It is then cultured to grow in a lab and then it is implanted in the knee. As per a study, the specific cartilage of nasal septum is especially suitable for transplant purpose.
Stem Cell Therapy and PRP
The above methods meant for cartilage repair might not be ideal. The results can be mixed too.
There are two methods which are found to be quite successful in treating cartilage injuries. These are stem cell therapies and platelet rich plasma therapy or PRP method. The immune system of the body is known to prompt the cartilage to regrow and heal, which is otherwise not possible.
Platelets and stem cells are our body components which help in healing and regeneration. When these components are concentrated, harnessed and delivered to the specific damaged tissue, the cartilage can regrow.
A lot of research is still going on to find the best technique. We are still waiting for the perfect healing technique.