Microfracture surgery can repair damaged knee cartilage, the material that cushions bones at their joints. First, surgeons make a one-quarter inch incision on the affected knee and then insert an instrument into the joint to poke small holes (microfractures) into the bone just below the end of the damaged cartilage. Blood clots cover the damaged area, and the body naturally produces new cartilage.
Microfracture surgery can provide a new surface to a portion of the joint that enables improved function. This new surface is not normal but does permit movement and actions with decreased symptoms and is often used to treat pain associated with cartilage damage.
Some people are better candidates than others for microfracture surgery. Good candidates include those
- who are usually active but are unable to participate in their particular sport or activity
- with limited areas of cartilage damage
- with pain or swelling caused by the damaged cartilage
On the other hand, inactive people, those with widespread arthritis of the joint and those who cannot or will not participate in rehabilitation following microfracture surgery are not well suited for the procedure.
In the lengthy healing process, patients usually see progress in pain reduction and enhanced knee function after about six months. Improvement can continue for two to three years. Following surgery, the knee will be protected for several weeks, and weight-bearing activities will be restricted. Patients will likely require crutches for six to eight weeks.
An active rehabilitation program is a key component to a successful recovery from microfracture surgery. While you should not resume sports that involve pivoting, cutting or jumping for at least six months, it is essential that you follow your surgeon’s recommendations for physical therapy. To maximize your chances of recovery, we can design a series of exercises that will strengthen the knee and restore its function while still allowing your knee to heal safely.