The cartilage is a cushion-like structure that covers the bone ends in the joints, supporting the weight, distributing the loads and favoring the sliding of the ends of the joint, thus protecting it from friction during movement. To fulfill this task, the articular cartilage has a very smooth surface.
Cartilage is composed in large percentage by water and collagen; Pearl white appearance, is part of all joints of the body. The cells that comprise it are called chondrocytes.
The cartilage is not irrigated, that is, blood endings do not reach it, but it is nourished by diffusion from the neighboring structures; the movement of the articulation causes that this diffusion is favored and therefore the arrival of nutrients to it. This explains its low regenerative capacity. Next, we review the main cartilage pathologies. The cartilaginous damage can be of traumatic or degenerative origin.
Arthrosis is a physiological process, or what is the same, is considered a normal process as the age progresses, which occurs as a result of the degeneration of articular cartilage.
With age, this cartilage becomes dehydrated and loses its elastic consistency, thus preventing it from fulfilling its function of damping the friction of the bone ends and avoiding overloading the joint.
The process begins to be revealed mainly in women over 45-55 years due to hormonal deprivation suffered with the arrival of menopause, being somewhat later in men (around 65).
The main symptom is pain in the joint when moving, due to the friction of the bone ends. This pain increases after periods of rest; Cyclically, with periods of increase, and periods of decrease.
The diagnosis is established by simple radiology. The necessary projection will vary with the affected joint. In general, a decrease in joint space (impingement) will be observed, evidencing cartilage degeneration.
The treatment of osteoarthritis begins with support measures in the initial stages, such as mild exercise and analgesics; Sometimes, medications with chondroprotective action are provided, although their use is still under debate.
It follows a course that alternates crisis of intense pain, with crisis of decrease of the same, having to focus the analgesic treatment to the crises of intense pain and to diminish the analgesic medication in the periods of less pain.
In more advanced stages, more aggressive measures such as infiltrations, either corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid, and ultimately, there is the surgical resource: implantation of an articular prosthesis. The latter must be reserved as a last option due to the complexity of the surgery and the long-term complications that this may entail.
In all cases when it comes to a load articulation, it will be essential to avoid obesity in order to reduce the pressure on the cartilage and thus stop the disease and reduce the symptoms.
It is the inflammation of the articular cartilage. This can occur due to trauma in the region or its mechanism of production is unknown.
Cartilage damage is classified according to the involvement in:
Type I: This is a superficial lesion. Limited to the cells that make up the cartilage.
Type II: If it affects the entire thickness of the cartilage of the joint area.
Type III: If the injury extends to the bone.
The clinic is very similar to post-traumatic arthritis.
The initial treatment is based on rest, local cold at first to avoid great inflammation, and NSAIDs.
In cases in which this injury affects a load joint such as the knee or ankle, the patient is of young age with a healthy knee and the lesion is of sufficient size to produce continuous annoying symptoms; you can contemplate surgery to treat these injuries.