The goals of joint preservation are to restore movement, decrease pain, and delay the need for a joint replacement procedure.
A joint is where two or more bones come together. As joints move, the surfaces glide and roll over each other, providing for movement. The ends of the bones are softened by a substance called cartilage that allows bones to glide smoothly over each other without causing pain or friction.
Joint preservation procedures focus on this cartilage. Cartilage that is deteriorating causes joint pain that interferes with normal life. Joint preservation techniques can be either surgical or non-surgical and focus on alleviating the pain and delaying the need for joint replacement.
There are a number of different ways the cartilage can become damaged, the most common of which is arthritis, (normal wear and tear over a number of years), or in younger patients, issues such as inflammation.
Eventually, cartilage can deteriorate to the point where joint replacement is necessary. Joint preservation techniques delay the need for these procedures.
Physical therapy strengthens the muscles around a particular joint to help absorb more impact from motion. Specialized braces can help as well. Sometimes, anti-inflammatory medications will also be prescribed. All three approaches help preserve cartilage and reduce joint pain while increasing range of motion.
Dr. Hersch uses several different types of joint preservation techniques. The one he recommends depends on many factors, including where the joint is located, the cause of the cartilage deterioration, the age of the patient, and his/her general overall health. These techniques include:
– Joint injections
– Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy
– Cartilage transplant
– Limb malalignment