3 Tips to Show Your Joints Some Love

Neglecting joint pain can lead to significant issues. What seems like a nagging annoying annoyance has the potential to progress into something sinister if not addressed. Our joints have critical functions that support movement and provide stability every single day of your life. They should never be taken for granted. Keep reading for tips to keep your joints happy. The more you give them love, the more they will love and support you back.

Low-Impact Workouts/Stretches

When we say ‘low impact’ we mean it. 5 push-ups every day is better than nothing. 5 min of walking every day is better than nothing. The key is consistency, rather than intensity. Many people become overwhelmed when thinking about starting an exercise regimen. Don’t let this happen to you. Start with just five minutes every day. That’s it. Eventually, you may want to extend that walk to 10 or 20 minutes.

Low-impact workouts and stretches are more effective in managing joint pain than high-impact exercises. High-impact activities often cause undue stress on your joints, leading to knee pain or discomfort in other joints. Consider incorporating exercises and stretching activities like swimming, cycling, or yoga into your daily life. Remember, start small for a short duration of time.
Prevention of issues is key when it comes to joint health. Daily, low-impact workouts and stretches help maintain joint flexibility and improve overall fitness which reduces the risk of developing joint-related issues over time.

Diet

We all know in 2024 that what you eat has a crucial impact on your overall health, which very much includes your joints! Eating foods that are rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce knee pain and stiffness. These are found in fish like salmon and sardines, flax and chia seeds, walnuts, and more.
Antioxidant foods are ridiculously good for your body as well. Berries, broccoli, and spinach are rich in antioxidants. They also help to decrease inflammation in the body. help combat inflammation in the body.
Also, consider adding foods rich in collagen to your diet. Collagen is a vital component of joint cartilage and is found in collagen-rich foods like bone broth, organ meats, and sardines.
As always, don’t forget about hydration. Adequate hydration is crucial for maintaining the lubrication of joints, preventing friction and discomfort.

Regular Orthopedic Screenings

Remember before when we said prevention is key? Every time, prevention trumps treating joint pain once it has already developed. Regular orthopedic screenings are a proactive approach to joint care.
Orthopedics should not only be thought of as a branch of medicine to seek out when you are having a problem with your musculoskeletal system. Scheduling routine check-ups with an orthopedic specialist can help detect and address potential joint issues before they become serious.
Orthopedic specialists evaluate your joints for stability, range of motion, and signs of wear and tear. If anything is found that is a cause for concern, they can recommend appropriate measures to be taken so the issue doesn’t progress into something serious. These recommendations include lifestyle changes, diet improvements, or physical therapy.
For those dealing with more severe joint issues, advanced treatments like MACI (Matrix-Induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation) stem cell therapy is quickly becoming a much sought-after treatment for knee pain. This innovative procedure involves the repair and regeneration of damaged cartilage in the knee, offering hope for individuals who have tried other treatments unsuccessfully.

Top 5 Joint-Friendly Ways to Set Up for the Holidays

For most people, this time of the year is filled with festivities and celebrations. But for some people, it can mean increased joint pain, particularly knee pain, because of the change in weather. Read on for suggestions on how to set up for the holidays in the most pain-free way possible.

Maintain Good Posture

You may not think so, but the posture of your spine when sitting and standing can have a huge impact on your other joints near and far away. Maintaining proper posture is critical for alleviating stress on your joints which can lead to pain.

Sitting with good posture (which means no slouching) and distributing your bodyweight as evenly as possible can have a significant positive impact on dispensing equal stress on all joints. This helps to reduce joint pain so that one joint does not bear the brunt of the work to stabilize and move your body. Uneven stress on joints is usually the cause of knee pain and other injuries.

Orthopedic supports such as ergonomic cushions and chairs support your spine and hips which can ensure that your joints are well-aligned.

Wear Orthopedic Shoes

Knee pain, ankle pain, and all other joint pain can be dramatically improved by changing footwear. Again, the use of orthopedic shoes and inserts have the aim of equally distributing your bodyweight. Or they may be custom-made to have more support where you need it more and less support where it is not needed as much.

Your shoes should have adequate arch support, be roomy in the toes, and have the amount of cushioning that you find comfortable. Orthopedic shoes and inserts can provide relief from joint pain and help improve posture.

Utilize Ladders, Step Stools, and Other Aids

If you can’t reach something, don’t strain and try to reach beyond your capability. This could lead to falling and causing serious injury. Utilizing step ladders, grabbers, and step stools can be very helpful when needing to reach high places or nooks and crannies that are hard to get to.

When using ladders and step stools, make sure that they are stabilized before climbing on them. It is helpful to have someone else there with you to help.

Explore a Change in Festive Setups

Maybe you need to consider a change in decorations and other festive setups. If you are having joint pain, some decorations, such as stringing lights, may be off-limits for you, and that’s OK. Pivoting to more joint-friendly setups can help with a holiday experience with minimal pain.

Explore homemade decorations that are fun to make and that you’re proud to display that don’t require reaching to high or far places.

Ask for Help

If you are having knee pain or some other joint pain that does not go away after several days of reduced activity and rest, it’s time to ask for help. And what a great time of year to ask for that help! Most people are in a very giving and helping spirit this time of year. Ask a friend or family member to lift that heavy object or reach a high shelf. Being open and honest about needing help with some things will make you and everyone around you more comfortable.  

When you have joint pain that needs help beyond reaching a high shelf or stringing lights, you may need to see your orthopedic doctor. We provide that help here at Dr. Burke Orthopedics in a friendly, empathetic manner. When it comes to knee pain specifically, we offer the latest innovation in stem cell therapy called the MACI Procedure. It is a game changer in orthopedics and treating knee pain. Give us a call about it at (713) 436-3488 to discuss your options and have a very happy holiday season!

3 Reasons to Be Thankful for Mobility with MACI

Losing mobility frequently leads to a loss of independence. Knee pain is one of the most common symptoms that can lead to a loss of mobility. Luckily, most knee pain can be effectively treated. The MACI Procedure has one of the highest success rates for the treatment of joint pain in the knee.  It is a state-of-the-art treatment that we are proud to offer.

What is MACI?

MACI (Matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation) is a minimally invasive orthopedic surgery that is indicated for cartilage damage in the knee. The procedure consists of using autologous stem cell therapy. The term ‘autologous’ refers to the use of stem cells from your own body to grow new, healthy cartilage.

MACI is groundbreaking in the field of orthopedics. Knee pain is often caused by cartilage damage. After seeing an orthopedic doctor who will determine a diagnosis of the root cause of your pain, they may recommend the MACI procedure.

The procedure itself is straightforward, uncomplicated, and has a success rate of up to 85%. Other, more invasive surgeries require longer recovery periods and are more involved, which usually means more pain. Recovery from MACI is less painful, and the progress you will make to return to all activities is easier and faster.

You can expect full range of motion restored in the knee and the ability to fully weight bear with no protective brace on your knee joint in 8 to 12 weeks.

3 Things You’ll be Thankful to Have Back after MACI

Below are examples of three activities that are second nature to you now. But once you require knee surgery, you may be in danger of losing these functions and will most likely do anything to get them back. These are just examples; they may not apply to you - and there are many more.

Simple, daily activities that you don’t need to think twice about when your knee joints are fully healthy are at risk of being compromised when there is deterioration of structures in the knee. Having the MACI Procedure can almost guarantee that these functions will not be lost forever.

Do You Qualify?

Most of the population would qualify as a candidate for the MACI Procedure. However, there are a minimal number of contraindications having to do with age, location of the cartilage damage allergies, and prior conditions and procedures. These are:

Embrace Fall with New Beginnings, Including New Cartilage

The new year is not the only time to set resolutions and embark on a new way of life. Now is the perfect time of year to fix that nagging knee pain you’ve had for a while so that you can be fully healed and recovered and enter the new year with a fresh sense of stability and capability in your leg.

Assessing Your Knee Joint Pain, Is It Acute or Chronic?

Acute vs chronic is usually defined by how long you’ve had it. You will find different definitions and lengths of time to define acute vs chronic. But typically, if you’ve been experiencing knee pain for less than 6 weeks, it is considered acute or subacute. A duration of knee joint pain of several months or more is chronic.

Acute knee pain generally has an identifiable cause such as injury. It should subside after several days or weeks of treatment and/or rest when the cause of the pain is gone. Knee joint pain is considered subacute when it is present for up to 6 weeks to 3 months.

Any longer than that, your knee pain is considered chronic and requires further examination by an orthopedic specialist to diagnose the cause of the pain and proper treatment.

If It’s Knee Cartilage Loss, Consider Stem Cell Therapy

Chronic knee pain is almost always caused by some sort of internal damage to cartilage or other structures within the joint. Chronic knee pain can be caused by an injury that did not heal properly in the acute stage and turned chronic.

Or there could be no injury at all and chronic knee pain can be a result of normal or excessive wear and tear on the joint. Most often, cartilage damage is the culprit. And in this case, you may be a perfect candidate for the MACI Procedure.

How the Maci Procedure Can Help You

MACI is a revolutionary treatment for knee pain introduced to the world in 2013 in Europe and gained full FDA approval in the US in 2016. It is specifically for repairing damaged cartilage. The procedure involves stem cell therapy using autologous cartilaginous stem cells to grow new cartilage. This new cartilage is then implanted in your knee to cover or replace the area of damaged cartilage.

The MACI Procedure can treat historically hard-to-treat areas in the knee that are causing pain. It boasts a very high success rate and has an easier, shorter, and less painful recovery period. Not all orthopedic surgeons perform this procedure as one must be specially trained and certified in the technique to do so.

Dr. Burke Orthopedics - The Premier Stem Cell Therapy Provider in Houston

If you have seen doctor after doctor with no relief of your knee pain, consider MACI. Or maybe, you want to skip all the misdiagnoses and wrong treatments, wasting time and money, and be diagnosed and treated correctly the first time. This is the treatment you will find at Dr. Burke Orthopedics.

We are a team of the best orthopedic specialists in Texas who provide the state-of-the-art and almost always successful MACI Procedure. Schedule a consultation with 2 convenient locations in Pearland, TX and Houston. Call us at (713) 436-3488.

3 Pinnacle Joint-Friendly Tips for Fall

Once the weather gets cooler, it’s easy to settle into the mindset of “Well, I need to start hunkering down for the winter.” This is the wrong mindset to have. Coming up with ways to remain active and maintain healthy joints is a better way of thinking. Read on to learn ways to combat joint pain and keep your joints healthy once the weather changes.

Stay Active with Gentle Exercises

Staying active is important to keep your joints moving. This will help to disburse the synovial fluid within the joint, keeping it lubricated and distributing nutrients. By staying active, not only will you be helping ease joint pain, but activity has the additional benefits of:

With orthopedic issues, a rigorous exercise program is not recommended, nor is it necessary. Gentle daily exercise is enough. If it’s not too cold outside, take a short walk. If relegated to the indoors, you can go up and down your staircase if you have one in the home.

Gentle stretches with a towel are great for maintaining flexibility and range of motion. Find online yoga videos and use TV time more efficiently by doing jumping jacks, push-ups, or running/walking in place during commercials. (If you’re not streaming your program) 😊

Nourish Your Joints with Seasonal Foods

Fall is host to an abundance of showcased foods that contain anti-inflammatory benefits. These benefits help with knee pain, shoulder pain, and all other joint pain. Pumpkins, gourds, sweet potatoes, and nuts and seeds all contain anti-inflammatory powerhouses. Take advantage of the popular and seasonal foods this fall while simultaneously helping your joints.

Mind Your Footwear and Surfaces

Paying attention to what shoes you wear and surfaces you walk/run on is not only important for ankle and knee pain but for your spine and every other joint in your body. Wearing supportive shoes provides cushioning and stability for your joints. This is particularly important if you walk on a hard surface all day at work or go running or walking on concrete for exercise.

These benefits affect the entire posterior chain of your body. This means that what helps your feet will help your ankles, then your knees. Wearing proper footwear also helps your hips, spine, and everything else.

If You’re Experiencing Long-Term Joint Pain, It’s Time to See an Orthopedic Doctor

There may come a time when you have joint pain, and it does not go away in a few days of rest and light activity. This is when you should visit an orthopedic doctor to make sure something serious is not going on with your joint.

The pain may still recede on its own, but to ensure that the situation is not sinister, schedule a consultation with Dr. Burke or one of his team members at Dr. Burke Orthopedics, the best orthopedic clinic in Texas! You can reach us by calling (713) 436-3488.

Dr. Burke's Top 10 Festive Fall Foods for Joint Health

What you eat has a significant impact on your joint health and overall well-being. You can indeed ease joint pain through food. This time of year provides many opportunities to choose foods that fight inflammation, strengthen bones and connective tissue, and more. So, if you like to indulge a little and have a few extra calories, fall is the season to do so.

Why Fall is the Best Time for Joint-Friendly Foods

Fall offers an abundance of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods that are in season. Foods with these properties are just the things you want to consume to ease knee pain and other joint pain. Most of these foods are available all year round but they are the star in many fall recipes, making them much easier to find in the grocery store.

Our Official Top Ten List

1. Pumpkin

Not just for sitting on the front porch, pumpkin flesh is loaded with beta-carotene, which has anti-inflammatory properties. The seeds are a great source of magnesium, another mineral known to reduce inflammation and aid relaxation and sleep.

2. Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds contain anti-inflammatory substances such as omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals.

3. Pomegranates and Pineapple

Pomegranates are antioxidant powerhouses. They also contain polyphenols which reduce inflammation. Pineapple contains bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory substance which fights arthritis pain and aids sleep.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another food loaded with beta-carotene, helping to combat inflammation. Regular consumption of them may help ease symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

5. Beans

When you think of temperatures cooling down, often people crave warm, comfort food such as chili. Enter beans! They are a chili staple and a wonderful source of anti-inflammatory substances like fiber and antioxidants.

Black beans, navy beans, and pinto beans are all great choices. They are all wonderful sources of fiber and protein. But lima beans are particularly beneficial as they contain a metabolite of dopamine called 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

6. Coldwater Fish

Salmon is often touted as being a superfood because of its omega-3 fatty acids. It’s true, but expand your seafood options to include tuna, halibut, and trout in your diet, all of which have these same anti-inflammatory properties.

7. Cruciferous Vegetables

These consist of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. They block enzymes that cause swelling of your joints. These vegetables are also loaded with vitamins and minerals.

8. Olive Oil

You may have never heard that using peanut oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and seed oils can increase inflammation levels, promoting joint pain. However, olive oil is an excellent choice, packed with inflammation-fighting Omega-3s.

9. Aromatic Root Vegetables

Aromatic root vegetables are onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger, celery, scallions, and horseradish. There are more, this list goes on and they are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Use them in abundance to add loads of flavor to your dishes and ease joint pain at the same time.

10. Avocados

Avocados have high amounts of potassium, magnesium, fiber, and healthy fats. And they may help with weight loss, which is always a concern with orthopedic issues, particularly knee pain. Recent research found that avocados “induce antioxidant and anti‐inflammatory effects by improving enzymatic activity and modulating obesity‐related impairments in the anti‐inflammatory system in different tissues, without side effects.” And that they are” … effective in reversing the harmful effects of obesity on blood lipids.” 1

For More Serious Orthopedic Concerns, Contact an Orthopedic Expert

Certainly not all orthopedic issues can be fixed with food intake choices. There are times when a serious condition warrants a visit to an orthopedist. For these issues, don’t hesitate to contact the best orthopedic doctors in Texas at Dr. Burke Orthopedics by calling (713) 436-3488.

Sources cited:

  1. Tramontin, NS, Luciano, TF, Marques, SO, de Souza, CT, Muller, AP. Ginger and avocado as nutraceuticals for obesity and its comorbidities. Phytotherapy Research. 2020; 34: 1282–1290. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6619

The MACI Journey: A Patient's Experience from Diagnosis to Recovery

You may have heard about the revolutionary MACI Procedure for knee pain and want to know what it would be like to have it. We want to help with that curiosity. Read below to learn about the procedure, who it’s appropriate for, and hear from a satisfied patient.

What is MACI?

MACI (Matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation) is a specialized treatment for knee pain that not all orthopedic surgeons offer as you must be specially trained to perform this procedure.

It is a stem cell therapy meant for knee pain indicated for cartilage defects in the knee. Cartilage damage is the cause of most knee complaints. The stem cells used in this procedure are autologous - meaning cells from your own body that are targeted for cartilage repair.

The MACI procedure involves a 2-step process, the first of which consists of harvesting a sample of chondrocytes from your knee. These are the stem cells - chondrocytes are precursor cells that grow into cartilage. The sample extracted from a non-weight-bearing position of your knee is done arthroscopically.

Arthroscopic procedures are short, simple, and painless. Your surgeon will make a very small incision in your knee into which a tiny camera on a thin tube is inserted into your knee. The camera functions as a guide for your surgeon as it displays an internal image onto a monitor.

Once extracted, we ship these cells to a dedicated MACI lab. Here they are implanted onto a collagen matrix bed and specially treated to encourage growth of the chondrocytes into new cartilage. After about a month, the new cartilage can function on its own and your MACI implant is created.

Now you will be ready to undergo the second phase of the procedure. This step involves surgically implanting your MACI implant over or in place of the area of damaged cartilage. The implant is quite flexible and strong. It can be trimmed to an exact fit needed for cartilage repair, whether by covering or replacing the damage.

Your surgeon uses a fibrin sealant to affix the implant in place which makes sutures unnecessary. The new cartilage from the MACI implant absorbs into your tissue.

Meet Abby

One of many patient testimonials on the MACI website is Abby whose story will probably be relatable to many people reading this. Abby was a college athlete who participated in competitive sports for most of her life.

Suddenly, she found herself sidelined with knee pain but determined to get back in the game. She and her doctor decided that MACI would be the best option for her. After completing rehab after the surgery with the same focus and determination she always gave to her athletic endeavors, she was back to participating in all her most beloved activities.

She states “MACI impacted me in a lot of ways. By resolving my knee pain, it brought me back to doing what I love; running, biking, and just being active with my family and friends.”

Is MACI right for you?

MACI is right for nearly anyone within a certain age range. That range is 18-55 years old. The safety and efficacy of MACI have not yet been verified for patients outside this span.

When your doctor determines that cartilage damage is the cause of your knee pain you are likely a suitable candidate for the MACI Procedure. And the versatile nature of the MACI implant allows multiple areas to be treated at the same time, if needed. This list below encompasses common areas of knee injury that were historically difficult to treat but, thanks to MACI, are now easily treatable. These include:

Contact Us

Consider MACI with Dr. Burke, you will not be disappointed. Schedule a consultation with us at DR. Burke Orthopedics in Pearland, TX by calling (713) 436-3488.

MACI: A Game-Changer in Knee Surgery for Active Individuals

Has your knee been bothering you for a long time and you’ve been to several doctors to seek relief to no avail? Or you’re simply wary of having the recommended procedure such as a knee replacement. Read on to find out about how the MACI Procedure can fix your knee problems in a much less invasive, painful way that requires less downtime.

Cartilage Loss: A Common Issue for Active Individuals

Cartilage damage is the most common reason that your knee hurts, whether it’s from an acute knee injury or a long-term wear and tear type scenario. Cartilage repair is the crux of MACI and can have you back to enjoying the activities you love in less time than it would take from more invasive procedures.

So, whether you’re an athlete or just a very active person and you find yourself limiting the things you do because of knee pain – cartilage damage is probably to blame.

What is the MACI Procedure?

The MACI (Matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation) procedure is a treatment for knee pain using autologous stem cell therapy. It is a minimally invasive surgery, indicated for knee cartilage damage.

Autologous’ refers to the stem cells used in the MACI Procedure. They are yours, harvested from your own body and completed arthroscopically from a non-weight-bearing position of the knee. The extracted cells consist of chondrocytes, which are the building blocks of cartilage. This is the first step of a 2-step process for this procedure.

Arthroscopic procedures are short and simple. They involve making a very small incision in which your surgeon inserts a thin tube into your knee, on the end of which is a very tiny camera. This camera displays an image onto a monitor that your surgeon uses as a guide.

We then ship these stem cells to a specialized lab dedicated to the MACI Procedure. There, the cells are implanted onto a collagen membrane that encourages growth into fresh new cartilage. As soon as the new cartilage is ready to survive and function on its own, your MACI implant is created.

Now, you are ready for the second phase which involves surgically inserting the implant over or in place of the damaged area. The implant can be trimmed to an exact fit to cover or replace the damage.

The implant absorbs into your tissue. Sutures are generally not required as a fibrin sealant is used to fix the implant in place.

Recovery is easier, less painful, and requires less downtime than many other orthopedic surgeries.

When you wake up from surgery, your leg will be locked in a brace that you need to wear for about 6 weeks. Full motion and weight-bearing of the knee without the brace is expected within 8 to 12 weeks.

How Dr. Burke and the MACI Procedure Can Help You Get Back on Track

This procedure boasts a high success rate and is a wonderful option that we provide, that is not offered by all orthopedic surgeons. Dr. Burke is specially trained in the technique.

The MACI Procedure is a revolutionary orthopedic surgery. Knee pain can limit everything you try to do in life. If your knee is bothering you, come see our team at Dr. Burke Orthopedics to determine the root cause of the issue. You may find that you are a candidate for the MACI Procedure to fix your knee pain once and for all.

Revolutionizing Knee Cartilage Repair: The Matrix-Induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI) Procedure and Its Impact on Regenerative Medicine

MACI is a game-changing treatment for managing knee pain. Keep reading to learn about the procedure and why it is fast becoming the gold-standard treatment to help your knee.

What is the MACI Procedure?

The MACI Procedure (matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation) is a minimally invasive orthopedic surgery indicated for cartilage damage in the knee that causes pain. The procedure is an autologous stem cell therapy, which means that the stem cells used in MACI are harvested from your own body.

Knee pain is quite common, and the most common cause of it is cartilage damage. If your knee is painful, an orthopedic specialist such as our providers at Dr. Burke Orthopedics can accurately diagnose the cause. If they determine you are having pain because of damaged cartilage within the joint, your doctor may recommend that you have the MACI procedure.

The procedure consists of a 2-step process. The first phase involves extracting a sample of chondrocytes from your knee joint, which are the precursor cells needed to grow new cartilage. The sample, harvested from the knee in a non-weight-bearing position, is done arthroscopically.

The extracted chondrocyte cells are then sent to a lab to be specially treated and grow new cartilage. After about a month, the new cartilage can survive on its own and your MACI implant is created.

The second step of the process consists of surgically inserting your MACI implant over or in place of the damaged cartilage. MACI implants are flexible and strong, and they can be trimmed to a custom fit of the damaged cartilage.

A High Success Rate, and What That Means

The success rate of this procedure is 80-85%. Patients who have undergone the procedure are regularly asked to rate their percentage of improvement in function and symptoms. 0% means no improvement following surgery. 100% improvement means that all pain and function limitations experienced before surgery are now resolved.

Not many surgeries reach that level of success. A higher rate of success was confirmed in a study by SUMMIT. The study followed up with patients both 2 and 5 years after surgery when compared to microfracture.

Is MACI Right for You?

MACI is a wonderful option available to you to choose over more invasive surgeries that need longer recovery times. Recovering after this procedure is less painful than many other orthopedic surgeries.

The safety and efficacy of the MACI Procedure have not been determined for patients outside of 18-55 years of age.

Also, some contraindications exist that you should consider before opting for this procedure.

Sources:

  1. Saris D, Price A, Widuchowski W, Bertrand-Marchand M, Caron J, Drogset JO, Emans P, Podskubka A, Tsuchida A, Kili S, Levine D, Brittberg M; SUMMIT study group. Matrix-Applied Characterized Autologous Cultured Chondrocytes Versus Microfracture: Two-Year Follow-up of a Prospective Randomized Trial. Am J Sports Med. 2014 Jun;42(6):1384-94.
  2. Brittberg M, Recker D, Ilgenfritz J, Saris DBF; SUMMIT Extension Study Group. Matrix-Applied Characterized Autologous Cultured Chondrocytes Versus Microfracture: Five-Year Follow-up of a Prospective Randomized Trial. Am J Sports Med. 2018 May;46(6):1343-1351.

Revolutionizing Knee Cartilage Repair: Exploring the Benefits of the MACI Procedure

What is Maci?

MACI (matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation) is a state-of-the-art orthopedic procedure for fixing knee pain. If you have knee pain, cartilage damage is often to blame. One of our orthopedic doctors can provide an accurate diagnosis and if they determine that the cause of your knee pain is cartilage damage, you may be a candidate for the MACI procedure.

The MACI procedure is a simple, minimally invasive surgical option that uses autologous stem cells. ‘Autologous’ means that these cells are harvested from your own body. It is a two-step process consisting of 2 short procedures requiring about a month in between the two phases.

Minimally Invasive, Little Downtime

The first phase of MACI is minimally invasive that uses arthroscopy, meaning that your surgeon inserts a tiny camera into two or three small incisions to examine the inside of your knee. During this procedure, your surgeon will remove a small piece of cartilage from a non-weight-bearing area of the knee as well as take a few photos to record the areas of cartilage damage.

Your doctor’s office ships these cells to a lab where they are grown into fresh new cartilage. When the cells are ready, they are returned to your surgeon as your MACI implant. The second stage of the procedure involves placing this implant in the knee to cover or replace the damaged area.  It is performed on an outpatient basis well as the first phase and does not require a night in the hospital.

The MACI Procedure is associated with better outcomes, at upwards of 85% for ridding knee pain, and less downtime than previous gold-standard treatments for knee pain, such as microfracture. 

Return to Normalcy Quickly

Stem cells grow and reproduce quickly, allowing you a faster recovery and return to normal function. A research article published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, “MACI may permit an accelerated return to full WB and exercise.”1

Many post-op patients can return to sedentary work aftertwo to four weeks. Participation in more involved activities and high-impact sports takes about six months in most cases, however, it may be appropriate for you to engage in lower-impact physical activities much sooner.

Expectations After MACI

You will wake up wearing a brace on your knee after completion of the second phase. The brace is locked in a straightened position to protect the new implant and help it heal but can be unlocked for bending the knee when sitting. When standing, there is a limit on the amount of weight you can bear on the leg. Generally, weight bearing as tolerated is permissible. The brace is worn for around 6 weeks.

Physical therapy is key to your recovery to regain your full range of motion and strength. Everyone experiences different rates of healing. Though there are guidelines and a general timeline for return to activity, your physical therapist will tailor your rehab program to your unique needs, and it may take a longer or shorter time. But on average, the time frame for recovery is freedom from the brace and full range of motion and weight-bearing in 8 to 12 weeks. Full recovery generally takes 9 to 12 months.

Complications arising from this procedure rarely occur. Without unforeseen hiccups, you can expect a pain-free, full return to function and sport after about a year.

Sources

  1. Peter K. Edwards, Timothy Ackland, and Jay R. Ebert. Clinical Rehabilitation Guidelines for Matrix-Induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation on the Tibiofemoral Joint. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2014 44:2, 102-119

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