Conditions & Treatments

Hip Cartilage Restoration

The hip joint is the largest weight-bearing joint in the body. It is very strong and stable, but not indestructible. Sudden injury, an active lifestyle, disease, and wear and tear can all impact joint health and stability. Cartilage restoration is designed to preserve joint anatomy and function and reduce pain. It is the bridge between symptom relief and joint replacement.

The hip joint and articular cartilage

The hip is a ball and socket joint. Both the ball and socket are lined with articular cartilage which provides for virtually friction – free movements. In addition, the rim of the socket is lined with a ring of cartilage called the labrum that cushions and supports socket for normal hip joint motions. Due to a poor blood supply articular cartilage has limited ability to heal itself.

What are the symptoms of cartilage injury?

Damage to the articular cartilage commonly causes deep groin pain that worsens with exercise. Loose bodies (free-floating fragments of cartilage) and frayed cartilage can cause a sense that the hip is locking or catching. When osteoarthritis damages cartilage the symptoms include deep groin pain, stiffness and eventually a loss of motion.

Damaged articular cartilage is damaged it can result in hip instability, pain, dislocation of the hip,

What causes cartilage defects in the hip?

  • Distinct cartilage defects result from injury or trauma and can lead to osteoarthrosis of the joint.
  • Degeneration of the articular cartilage and ultimately destruction of the joint is the result of osteoarthritis.

How is cartilage damage diagnosed?

In addition to your symptoms and range of motion testing, your Grossmont Orthopedic hip specialist will order X-rays to identify bone irregularities and bone spurs. Imaging studies are needed to evaluate damage to articular cartilage.

What is cartilage restoration?

The goal of cartilage restoration is to stimulate the growth and development of new articular cartilage to preserve and restore healthy joint function. This is accomplished with a surgical procedure. Many of these procedures are performed with minimally invasive arthroscopy of the hip joint.

Surgical procedures


Microfracture surgery is a procedure to create multiple small holes in the joint surface which stimulate the body to create of a new blood supply to initiate the healing response. Controlled injury to the joint surface stimulates the recruitment of cartilage forming cells to the site of injury to grow new cartilage for joint preservation.

Microfracture is a valuable option for patients with limited, distinct cartilage damage, who are active and desire to return to activity. Microfracture can provide substantial pain relief in the right patient.  It is not a good option for people with arthritis in the joint, for people who are sedentary, and for those who choose not to participate in rehabilitation after surgery.

Cartilage transplants

  • Autografts of cartilage Implantation – In this procedure your Grossmont orthopedic surgeon will harvest healthy cartilage from non-weight bearing bone and grow these cells in a lab for several weeks. When the new cells are ready, an open procedure will be used to implant the cells into the defect. This is a good procedure for younger patients with small cartilage defects.   Since this procedure uses your cells, there is no risk of rejection.
  • Cartilage transplantation – Autografting is designed to repair small areas of damage. Here the surgeon will harvest a small plug of cartilage and bone from a healthy area of your bone and transplant it into the cartilage defect.

Allografting is designed to treat larger cartilage defects. The allograft will be provided by a donor. A cartilage transplant replaces damaged cartilage with healthy cartilage and is best for active people with localized cartilage damage. While the cartilage is healing joint must be protected. Physical therapy will help restore mobility and strength restoration. Recovery typically take several months.

Cartilage restoration procedures can significantly improve your quality of life, allow you to return to the activities you enjoy and delay the progression of osteoarthritis and joint replacement surgery. Contact Grossmont Orthopaedics in La Mesa, California to discover how you can get back to the life you love.