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Cartilage is a fine, rubbery elastic tissue that acts as cushion between the bones in the joint spaces. It is a connective tissue and enables the joints to move freely and smoothly. It acts as a shock absorber and reduces the friction between the joints. This cartilage could either be damaged as a result of injury or degeneration as part of normal ageing process. Either of this causes friction during joint movement, causing painful, stiff movements and in some cases, even swelling of the joint spaces.
There is also a covering around the joints known as synovium. When there is a cartilage damage, this synovium is irritated, leading to increased secretion of synovial fluid, which can cause swelling in joints. There is also reduction in the range of motion of the affected joint.
Most commonly affected joints include knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and ankles. Other than degeneration that happens with ageing, cartilage damage is mainly caused by injury or trauma including fall/impact, joint dislocation, infection, ligament tear, meniscus tear, and inflammation (gout, arthritis, etc.)
Read on to know some of the most common causes for cartilage damage and ways to manage it.
Age and trauma are the main reasons for cartilage damage.
Direct blow: A heavy blow directly to any joint leads to damage (accident, sports injury, etc.).
Ageing: With constant wear and tear, joints that are under constant stress are prone for damage.
Obesity: This is also a common cause leading to chronic inflammation and breakdown of the joints.
Limited mobility: For whatever reasons (including sedentary lifestyle), lack of movement can cause cartilage damage.
The presenting symptoms of a person with any affected joint would be pain, discomfort and stiffness with movement. In addition to history and physical examination, MRI and arthroscopy can be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Start with a conservative approach and gradually switch to more advanced treatments. Conservative approach includes a combination of pain killers, steroid injections, and exercise (at a clinic or at home). If these do not work, the following surgical options are available:
Debridement: The affected cartilage is smoothened and the loose edges are removed to prevent rubbing and irritation. It is done using a shaver.
Mosaicplasty: In areas of localized damage, healthy cartilage from an unaffected area is placed.
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation: Cartilage that is grown in a lab for one to three months are placed into the knee or affected joint to allow for healthy tissue growth.
The ovaries are the egg producing organs, an essential part of the female reproductive system, they are responsible for the production of estrogen and release an egg every month. If the egg is fertilized with a sperm it can result in a pregnancy.
Ovarian cysts are quite common among women. Ovarian cysts are known to be small sacs filled with fluid that are situated in the ovaries.
Causes of ovarian cysts: Among ovarian cysts, the most common one is called the 'functional cyst'. This type of cyst is generally formed during the process of ovulation, wherein either the eggs do not successfully release from the sac or the sac (follicle) fails to disintegrate properly after the release of the egg.
Certain factors that can cause ovarian cysts are:
- Age that is ovarian cysts are more likely to occur in women who have reached menopause
- Being overweight or obese
- Consumption of fertility drugs
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Family history of ovarian cysts and cancer
- Early menstruation, that is, the onset of the period before the age of 11
Symptoms related to ovarian cysts: Generally, ovarian cysts show no specific symptoms and are generally located during a physical examination or an ultrasound. But, in case you suffer from large cysts or those that have ruptured, you may experience certain signs like:
- Pain while having sex. Great discomfort may be felt, particularly when deep penetration is attempted.
- Pain in the lower abdominal and pelvic region. This pain may be intermittent or persistent. It can also vary from being mild to quite sharp.
- Irregularity in the menstrual cycle.
- An uncomfortable pressure in the lower abdominal and pelvic area.
- Acute pain in the pelvic area and the lower back all throughout the menstrual period.
- Pain in the pelvic area after a session of vigorous exercise or strenuous physical activity.
- A feeling of discomfort or pain while urinating or during bowel movements.
- Nausea, followed by vomiting.
- Pain in the vaginal area, or light bleeding.
- Problems with healthy bowel movements.
IVF is not the only solution to every infertility problem. You can choose from amongst a number of options which are available today. A number of these options are both cost-effective and less invasive when compared to IVF. You need to know more about the other options before making any hasty decisions. IVF is an extremely expensive and complicated treatment which needs to be monitored at each step. However, there are other options which are more feasible and should be considered before selecting the procedure of IVF. Some of these alternatives are mentioned below.
Intrauterine Insemination or Artificial Insemination involves placing the man’s semen inside the woman’s uterus, fallopian tubes or the cervix. The process of IUI is often selected when the woman does not have an issue with regular ovulation. This procedure has become extremely popular and common due to its cost-effectiveness. This may be one of the first alternatives which your doctor may suggest to IVF.
The procedure for artificial insemination is quite simple. The doctor starts with using ovulation kits, ultrasounds and blood tests to make sure that you are ovulating before going through the process of insertion. A sample of the semen is to be provided to the doctor. The doctor suggests not having sex for at least 2 to 5 days in order to be sure that the sperm count is high. Once the semen is washed within an hour of being collected, technicians liquefy the sperm to increase the chances of pregnancy. A chemical solution is used to separate out the most active and healthy sperm. The sperm is then placed in a catheter to be put inside the cervix via the vagina.
IVM or In Vitro Maturation
In Vitro Maturation is distinctly from In vitro Fertilization as the former focuses on maturation of the eggs in the laboratory after they are collected from the ovaries. However, the process of fertilization is similar to the traditional process of IVF. The procedure of IVM is usually preferred over IVF as it is significantly cheaper than the IVF treatment.
Sometimes the process of ovulation induction can also help women become pregnant easily. The ovulation is stimulated with the help of various medicines. With the help of simple medications and an ultrasound scan the chances of getting pregnant increases.