Cartilage Defects of the Glenohumeral Joint


The ball and socket of the shoulder are normally covered by a layer of cartilage. Following injury, this cartilage layer can be damaged and reveal the underlying bone. If this bone is exposed it can be a cause of pain in the shoulder joint. This may occur more frequently in contact sports and overhead sports athletes.


The initial treatment is with painkillers but if pain persists then joint preservation injections become an option, as platelet rich plasma or hyaluronic acid may help with the pain and limited movement. Failing that, surgery is an option. A procedure called microfracture may be used to stimulate new cartilage growth in the shoulder. This can be performed by keyhole surgery and day-case surgery.


The recovery from this procedure is slow as we have to wait for the new cartilage to grow and if the shoulder moves too much during that growth it will prevent the new cartilage growing. Care is taken at the time of the operation to identify how much movement is permitted and that is taken into consideration by our physiotherapy team as they guide progression in range of motion through the rehab period.