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Articular Cartilage Injury and Potential Remedies


Osteoarthritis affects millions of people worldwide, is associated with joint stiffness and pain, and often causes significant disability and loss of productivity. Osteoarthritis is believed to occur as a result of ordinary "wear and tear" on joints during the course of normal activities of daily living. Posttraumatic osteoarthritis is a particular subset of osteoarthritis that occurs after a joint injury. Developing clinically relevant animal models will allow investigators to delineate the causes of posttraumatic osteoarthritis and develop means to slow or prevent its development after joint injury. Chondroprotectant compounds, which attack the degenerative pathways at a variety of steps, are being developed in an effort to prevent posttraumatic osteoarthritis and offer great promise. Often times, cartilage degradation after joint injury occurs despite our best efforts. When this happens, there are several evolving techniques that offer at least short-term relief from the effects of posttraumatic osteoarthritis. Occasionally, these traumatic lesions are so large that dramatic steps must be taken in an attempt to restore articular congruity and joint stability. Fresh osteochondral allografts have been used in these settings and offer the possibility of joint preservation. For patients presenting with neglected displaced intra-articular fractures that have healed, intra-articular osteotomy techniques are being developed in an effort to restore joint congruity and function. This article reviews the results of a newly developed animal model of posttraumatic osteoarthritis, several promising chondroprotectant compounds, and also cartilage techniques that are used when degenerative cartilage lesions develop after joint injury.

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