Cartilage Injuries Specialist

Dr. Patrick McCulloch

Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine located in Houston, TX

Cartilage injuries prevent your joint from moving as it should. Expert orthopedic surgeon Dr. Patrick McCulloch and his team diagnose and treat cartilage injuries in adults and teens at three Houston, Texas, locations, including Spring Valley, Bellaire, and the Texas Medical Center. If you think you or your child has a cartilage injury, call to book an appointment today.

Cartilage Injuries Q & A

What is a cartilage injury?

Oftentimes, people who talk about having a cartilage injury are referring to a meniscus tear in their knee. However, your joints also contain articular cartilage, which lines the ends of your bones and allows them to easily glide over one another. 

Healthy articular cartilage is essential for many athletic pursuits as well as everyday activities. If this cartilage gets damaged in an injury, it may not be able to heal itself because articular cartilage doesn’t have its own blood supply. Cartilage injuries can lead to arthritis over time.

Fortunately, Dr. McCulloch is skilled in cartilage restoration techniques. Cartilage restoration is most common in the knee, but he may also use this technique to treat shoulder and elbow injuries.  

How do cartilage injuries occur?

Articular cartilage injuries can result from sudden trauma, like a sports injury, or degenerative damage over time. A direct blow or fall may lead to a cartilage injury. 

Degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis also damage the articular cartilage, but these cases usually don’t respond as well to cartilage restoration. People with arthritis typically benefit more from a joint replacement.

The goal is to diagnose and treat these injuries in order to prevent or delay the development of arthritis later in life.

How are cartilage injuries diagnosed?

First, Dr. McCulloch or a member of his team reviews your symptoms and medical history. They perform a physical exam, checking for signs of a cartilage injury like tenderness and decreased range of motion. 

They may also take a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to visually examine your cartilage. In some cases, Dr. McCulloch may perform a quick diagnostic arthroscopy to determine your options and potentially take a biopsy of your cartilage to grow in the lab. This minimally invasive surgery uses a small camera to look inside your joint.

What treatment options are available for cartilage injuries?

If Dr. McCulloch detects a cartilage injury with the arthroscope, he may treat it in the same procedure. He inserts tiny surgical instruments through incisions that are less than half a centimeter long.

In some cases, he may need to perform open surgery through a larger incision.

Cartilage restoration involves stimulating healthy cartilage production with a variety of techniques, including:

  • Drilling
  • Microfracture
  • Abrasion arthroplasty
  • Autologous chondrocyte implantation
  • Osteochondral autograft or allograft transplantation

Dr. McCulloch and his team explain the various options and work with you to determine the best approach for you.

For advanced care of cartilage injuries, call the office of Dr. Patrick McCulloch to book an appointment today.