Articular Cartilage Injuries

articular cartilage injury

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE. With my training, I’m interessted in biomechanics to avoid injuries. I read « Sport Medicine Media Guide » and I learned some good stuff.

Definition

Articular cartilage is difficult to understand because there are 3 types of cartilages in the body : articular of hyaline cartilage (covers joint surfaces), fibrocartilage (knee meniscus, vertebral disk) and elastic cartilage (outer ear). These cartilage’s types differ in their structure, elasticity and strength.

Articular cartilage is a complex element, it’s a living tissue that is on the joint’s surface. The function is to provide a low friction surface to allow the joint to withstand weight loads through the range of motion needed to perform activity of daily living. To put it simply, articular cartilage is a very thin shock absorber. It’s built in 5 distinct layers and each layer has a structural and biochemical difference.

Injury

articular cartilage injury

Articular cartilage injury may be due to trauma or progressive degeneration (wear and tear). This can be mechanical destruction, a direct blow or other trauma. The healing of articular cartilage cells depends on the severity of the damage and the location of the lesion. Articular cartilage has no direct blood supply so it has very little ability to repair itself. It the lesion penetrates the bone under the cartilage, the bone provides blood in the area which improves the chances of healing.

Mechanical degeneration (wear and tear) of articular cartilage occurs with progressive loss of normal cartilage structure and function. This loss begins with the softening of the cartilage, then progresses to fragmentation. As the loss of articular cartilage lining continue, the underlying bone no longer has any protections against normal wear and tear of daily life and begins to get damaged leading to osteoarthritis.

In many cases, a patient experiences knee swelling and vague pain. At this stage, continuous physical activity isn’t possible. If a loose body is present, words such as « locking » or « catching » might be used to explain the problem. With wear and tear , the patient often experiences stiffness, decreased range of motion, joint pain and/or swelling.

Diagnostic

The physician examines the knee to look for a decrease in range of motion, pain along the joint line, swelling, fluid on the knee, abnormal alignment of the joint’s bones, and ligament or meniscal injury.

Cartilage lesions are difficult to diagnose and it’s possible that the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or arthroscopy may be necessary. Plain X- rays don’t usually diagnose articular cartilage problems but they used to rule out other abnormalities.

Treatment

articular cartilage injury treatment

 

Articular cartilage injury that doesn’t penetrate the bone doesn’t repair itself. A lesion that penetrates the bone can heal but the type of cartilage created is structurally unorganized and doesn’t work as well as the original cartilage.

Lesion less than 2 cm have the best prognosis and the best treatment options. These options are arthroscopic surgery using techniques to remove damaged cartilage and increase blood flow from the underlying bone (drilling, pick procedure or microfracture ).

For smaller lesion of articular cartilage surgery is not required.

For larger lesion, it’s necessary to transplant the articular cartilage from another area of the body. Talk to your doctor or specialist to have more information about the decision to have a surgical operation.

For patients with osteoarthritis, non-surgical treatment consists of physical therapy, lifestyle modification (for example reducing activity), bracing, supportive devices, oral and injection drugs (like non-steroidal inflammatory drugs, cartilage protective drugs) and medical management.

Surgical options depend on the severity of osteoarthritis and may provide a reduction in symptoms that are usually short-lived. Total osteoarthritis may relieve the symptom of advanced osteoarthritis but this usually requires a change in the lifestyle and/or level of activity of the patient.

Statistics

Based on published studies, the overall prevalence of articular cartilage injury in the knee is 36% among all athlete and 59% among asymptomatic basketball players and runners.

Subscribe to my newsletter and share this article if you think it can help someone you know.

-Steph

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

anterior cruciate ligament injury tear

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE. With my training, I’m interested in biomechanics to avoid injuries. I read « Sport Medicine Media Guide » and I learned some good stuff.

Knee is the largest and most complex joint of the body. There are 4 primary ligaments (with their muscles and tendons) and secondary ligaments for the knee to function properly. Here are the ligaments of the knee : there are 2 ligaments on the side the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and two crossed ligaments in the center of the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

Anterior cruciate ligament connects the front top part of the shine bone to the back bottom part of the thigh bone and keeps the shin bone from sliding forward.

anterior cruciate ligament

Injury

anterior cruciate ligament injury tear

There are several ways to have an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament :

  • The injury can be done because of a direct hit on the knee, which often happens in team sport.

  • The injury can be done without contact with an object in a situation where the knee forced to be in a abnormal position, which causes a tear in one or more ligaments of the knee. Or when an athlete in the race change direction. Or when an athlete make a hyperextend of the knee when landing a jump, which often happends in agility sports.

Diagnostic

In the majority of cases, the doctor is able to identify what is the injured ligament. But the knee can also be injured at the joint on the surface and in this situation, it’s more difficult to diagnose because of knee swelling. To make an accurate diagnosis, it will be necessary to use a MRI scan or arthroscopy.

Prevent

There are several fast, powerful movements that lengthen (eccentric phase) and shorten (concentric phase) a muscle. These prevention programs are for injuries without contact. These exercises are to improve the nerves/muscle control of the knee. These prevention programs use plymetrics, balance and strength/stability exercises.

Plymetrics

It’s a fast, powerful movement that lengthens (eccentric phase) and shortens (concentric phase) a muscle. The concentric phase increases the muscle power. Here is an example, an athlete who jumps from a box and immediately jumps into the air after touching the floor.

Balance

Balance exercices are done with the wobble or balance board. It’s also possible to perfom exercices by throwing a ball with a partner while balancing on one leg.

Strength/stability

To improve single-leg core strength and stability, there are excellent exercices such as jumping and landing on one leg with the knee flexed and momentarily maintaining this position.

Surgical treatment

In the past, there was a technique that consisted of stitching the ligament together but it was rarely successful. Currently, the technique involves reconstructing the anterior cruciate ligament by building a new ligament from tissue taken from one of the other tendons around the knee or from on organ donation. This tissue passed through drill holes in the thigh bone and the shin bone, and then ancored in place to create a new anterior cruciate ligament. Over time, this transplant becomes mature and becomes a new living ligament in your knee.

Recovery

recovery

Rheabilitation of the knee after the reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament requires time and work. To have a complete function, this can last between 6 weeks and 6 months depending on the severity and level of activity. Rehabilitation rate may take time depending on the specific requirements of the sport/physical activity of the individual.

The overall success rate of the anterior cruciate ligament surgery is very good. A lot of study show that more than 90% of patients are able to return to sport without symptoms of knee instability. It’s true that some patients complain of stiffness and pain after surgery, that is why it’s necessary to make an aggressive rehabilitation until the new surgical technique to reduce these problems.

Statistics

  • One of the most commonly injured ligament in the knee

  • Female athletes participating in basketball and soccer are 2-8 times more likely to suffer anterior cruciate ligament injury.

  • Athlete who suffer anterior cruciate ligament injury at increased risk of arthritis development later in life.

Subscribe to my newsletter and share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph