What types of cartilage injuries do children have?
Articular cartilage is the slippery white substance covering the ends of the bones. In the knee joint, the articular cartilage helps the bones glide painlessly against each other and acts as a shock absorber. The bone plate supporting the articular cartilage is called “subchondral bone”. If the subchondral bone is defective, the articular cartilage can become damaged. In children, cartilage injuries in the knee are divided into two categories:
- Pure Cartilage Defect – Only the cartilage layer is affected
- Osteochondral Defect – Where the cartilage layer and the underlying bone are affected
Articular cartilage has only a few possible diseases. The most common cartilage condition in children and adolescents is osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
The second most common cartilage injury in children is caused by trauma, such as a hard fall, twisting of the knee during sports, or from a direct impact.
Very rarely, children will develop a cartilage injury known as “wear and tear” cartilage degeneration. This type of cartilage defect typically occurs months or years after an injury or surgery – such as meniscectomy.