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Center for Cartilage Repair & Restoration

A doctor manipulates a patient's knee.If you suffer from knee pain caused by cartilage damage or other joint injuries, you know that discomfort and swelling can make it hard for you to do the things you love. That’s why the specialists at the UK Center for Cartilage Repair and Restoration will focus on finding the best treatment so that you can get active and moving again.

  • Why choose UK for knee pain and other joint pain?

    Joint damage often requires complex treatments, whether it’s for your knee, hip, shoulder or elbow. At UK, we have the expertise and experience in a wide range of treatment options – from the simplest to the most advanced – to repair and restore damaged cartilage. If you had a previous cartilage repair that didn’t go the way you planned, we also specialize in fixing those problems.

    We treat the following conditions:

    • Knee cartilage injury, including ACL tears or patellar (kneecap) dislocation.
    • Torn meniscus.
    • Meniscal deficiency, usually caused by the removal of the meniscus (the shock absorber of the knee) after an injury.
    • Injuries from previous surgeries, such as ACL repairs.
    • Elbow, shoulder and hip joint injuries.
  • Knee cartilage repair options

    Damaged cartilage usually doesn’t heal on its own – you’ll need treatment to alleviate your knee pain so that you can return to your favorite activities. The treatment option that’s best for you will depend on a number of factors, including how damaged your joint is and your age. We’ll help you decide which treatment path is right for you:

    We offer these non-surgical treatment options:

    • Physical therapy and activity modification.
    • Medication injections, such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid (also known as gel injections).
    • Orthobiologic injections, which are made from substances produced naturally in your body and can speed up the healing process when they’re injected in high concentrations. Insurance does not cover these injections.

    Surgical treatments include:

    • Knee arthroscopy: Your doctor inserts a small camera into the knee to help diagnose and guide the treatment.
    • Marrow stimulation (also called microfracture): Your surgeon stimulates healing and growth cells by drilling small holes in the bone. These holes help your body heal as it produces new replacement cartilage.
    • Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI implantation): This is a two-step procedure. First, your surgeon removes a small piece of cartilage from your knee and uses that cartilage to grow new cartilage cells in a lab. Several weeks later, those cells are put back into your knee as a cartilage graft where they become new cartilage.  
    • Osteochondral autograft and allograft implantation: With these more specialized techniques, your surgeon removes your damaged bone and cartilage. Your surgeon then replaces the area with healthy bone and cartilage from another part of your knee (autograft implant) or from a donor (allograft).
    • Meniscal allograft transplantation: Your entire meniscus (the C-shaped pad of cartilage in your knee) is replaced with a new meniscus taken from a donor.
    • Knee ligament reconstruction/ACL repair: Your ACL is removed and replaced with a tendon from another part of your leg.
    • Knee osteotomy: Your surgeon reshapes either your shin bone or thigh bone to reduce the weight on your knee joint and correct your knee alignment.

    At your appointment, your doctor will review previous imaging and may order additional X-rays. You’ll discuss any previous pain you’ve had and your activity level so you can decide on a plan that fits both your individual lifestyle and your expectations for your future activity level.

  • Cartilage research at UK

    We are constantly searching for new options to repair damaged cartilage. Clinical trials at UK are looking at inflammation in cartilage after ACL injuries, patellar dislocation, how quickly patients return to activity after treatments and more.