Articular Cartilage Damage in the Hip
Healthy joints are covered and surrounded by a soft tissue known as articular cartilage. When the hip joint becomes injured, either through sports trauma, overuse, or as the result of wear and tear (degenerative), articular cartilage damage can occur. This is especially the case with traumatic injuries, causing the cartilage to become loose, and chip off into the hip joint. Unlike some of the other structures within the hip joint, articular cartilage is not able to repair itself. Over time, damage to articular cartilage can worsen and lead to arthritis.
Orthopedic research has advanced the area of cartilage treatment in the hip. Once such procedure is Microfracture. Dr. Boykin specializes in Microfracture for patients in Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding communities.
What is Hip Microfracture Surgery?
The Microfracture procedure was developed to promote the growth of cartilage like tissue in an injured joint. Because of the lack of blood supply within the chondral layer, it is thought to be impossible for cartilage to regenerate itself. Microfracture is performed so that a fresh set of marrow cells and blood supply can be introduced to the damaged area, thus helping to promote production of a fibrocartilage layer to cover the exposed bone. During this procedure, small holes are made in the area of exposed bone creating “microfractures” allowing the bone marrow elements and stem cells to flow into the joint. These fractures are meant to provide a source of marrow stimulation and cells for new cartilage growth. In most cases, a layer of fibrocartilage will form to cover the exposed bony defect. This type of cartilage is different than the normal articular cartilage found in joints, but provides relief of symptoms and preservation of the surrounding cartilage in the joint by covering the bone. If the joint is already worn out where there are large areas of missing cartilage or advanced arthritis, then the microfracture procedure has been shown to not work in these situations.
Recovery After Microfracture Procedure in the Hip
After a microfracture procedure, patients are encouraged to avoid full weight bearing on the affected limb for 6 to 8 weeks to provide an optimal environment for the cartilage to fill in. Dr. Boykin may choose to use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. During this recovery time, patients will avoid certain hip motions but will be allowed to move the hip with the guidance of a therapist.
For more information on articular cartilage damage of the hip, or to learn more about Microfracture of the hip, please contact the office of Dr. Robert Boykin, orthopedic hip specialist treating patients in Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding North Carolina communities.