Articular cartilage is the smooth, porcelain-appearing tissue that covers the ends of bones at joints. Cartilage enables the gliding of bones at the joint level with little friction.
Articular cartilage damage can occur traumatically or over time (“wear and tear”). It unfortunately does not regenerate, so depending on the depth and severity of injury, various techniques are utilized to improve function and reduce pain associated with these injuries.
The goal of micro-fracture is to stimulate the growth of new articular cartilage by creating a new blood supply. In surgery, a sharp tool (an awl) creates multiple holes in the injured area in hopes of creating a healing response. A new blood supply can now reach the joint surface and “fibrocartilage” is produced.