The University of Kentucky is the proud home of the Center for Cartilage Repair and Restoration (CCRR), the first center of its kind in Kentucky and surrounding states. Led by assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine Dr. Christian Lattermann, the CCRR is designed to provide a comprehensive approach to treating several types of cartilage injuries.
ï¿½The treatment of cartilage injuries requires often complex surgical and nonsurgical treatment plans that can be difficult to coordinate in a regular practice environment,ï¿½ says Lattermann.
ï¿½This has increasingly been recognized and has resulted in the creation of centers that dedicate special resources toward the treatment of these injuries. The CCRR is one of the first of these centers nationwide.ï¿½
Cartilage is found in all moving joints in the body, and its role is to protect the bones by keeping the surfaces of the bones apart from each other, absorb shock, and help make movement smooth. Cartilage does this by providing a protective, wear-resistant surface to the end of the moving bones.
Injuries to cartilage, particularly in the knee and shoulder, are common. The normal structure and function of cartilage can be upset relatively easily and damage often results. These injuries can be caused by a sudden direct blow to the cartilage area or they could be the result of wear and tear over time. Immobilization for long periods of time, degenerative joint diseases, or slow damage to the cartilage following an injury are also ways we can damage cartilage. Therefore, it is important to take care of the cartilage in our joints.
ï¿½Listen to your joints and recognize signs such as swelling, mechanical popping, catching, and most importantly locking of the knee,ï¿½ says Lattermann. ï¿½If you have had one or two surgeries on your meniscus cartilage at a young age, you may want to pay particular attention to swelling or fluid in the knee and pain directly at the joint line.ï¿½
Itï¿½s also important to take care of your joints after youï¿½ve suffered damage to the cartilage.
ï¿½If you know that you have had cartilage damage, high-impact activities should be avoided as much as possible,ï¿½ says Lattermann. ï¿½There are many alternatives such as using an elliptical machine instead of the treadmill, or running on soft ground as opposed to the street.ï¿½
Help for hurting joints
Some people may find that pain and symptoms can be controlled by taking an over-the-counter pain medicine such as Motrin or Aleve. However, this should not be considered a final solution for reoccurring joint pain.
ï¿½In todayï¿½s world, anti-inflammatories are commonplace,ï¿½ says Lattermann. ï¿½If you find that you are taking these medications on a regular basis just to function during the day, you may want to have your joint evaluated by a physician to see if you have more severe damage than you think.ï¿½
Lattermann says ignoring persistent symptoms could lead to further physical problems. ï¿½If the condition worsens and you are in a lot of pain, a doctorï¿½s visit is prudent,ï¿½ says Lattermann.
ï¿½Usually, if a joint hurts, there is a structural reason behind it. Walking with a painful joint for prolonged time can cause many other problems, such as muscular imbalance or tendinitis. It can also change the way you walk and that can lead to pain in hips and lower back.ï¿½
For more information on the UK Center for Cartilage Repair and Restoration, visit the Web site at www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu/cartilage.