DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I recently heard about cartilage being used in knee joints. Last summer I was diagnosed with osteopenia, degenerative arthritis, moderate lateral compartment narrowing, and knee joint effusion in my right knee. I can no longer straighten it and have some swelling. I’ve had two injections, which helped with the pain for a time, but am wondering if cartilage would help in my situation.
ANSWER: Procedures to restore and repair cartilage are becoming more common. In situations like yours, however, where there is significant cartilage loss, these procedures typically are not successful. But there are other effective options for treating the symptoms associated with arthritis in your knee and the conditions accompanying it.
Your knee has two kinds of cartilage. The first is articular cartilage. It provides a smooth, lubricated surface within the joint. The second is the meniscus. It provides a cushion to the articular cartilage during weight-bearing activities.
The issues you’re dealing with involve the articular cartilage. When problems arise in the articular cartilage, they are the result of a focal injury or defect, or they happen due to arthritis — a diffuse loss of cartilage.