Three different types of cartilage are found in the body:
- Articular or hyaline cartilage -- covers joint surfaces
- Fibrocartilage -- such as in the knee meniscus and vertebral disk
- Elastic cartilage -- such as the outer ear.
Articular cartilage is a complex, living tissue that lines the bony surface of joints. It provides a low friction surface, enabling the joint to withstand weight bearing movements, both for daily activities as well as athletics, including walking and stair climbing, and work-related activities. In other words, articular cartilage is a very thin shock absorber.
Articular cartilage injuries can occur as a result of either traumatic mechanical destruction or progressive mechanical degeneration (wear and tear).
How Boston Children's Hospital approaches articular cartilage injuries
Depending on the severity of your child's articular cartilage injury, treatment may be surgical or non-surgical. At Children's, doctors are committed to repairing your child's knee in the least invasive manner possible, including physical therapy and tips on lifestyle changes. Surgery is only used in the most severe cases of articular cartilage injuries.