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Health Information Cartilage Transplants Now Work for Shoulders

Shoulder pain can be hard to shrug off. And until recently, younger patients with severe cartilage defects in the shoulder had few options for relieving the intense pain and restoring mobility.

Joint replacement is not ideal for younger patients because the prostheses wear out over time, requiring a second, more complicated surgery. The most common alternative to joint replacement is arthroplasty, in which scar tissue and loose pieces of cartilage are removed. But arthroplasty provides only temporary relief, because the underlying damage to the cartilage is not corrected.

Now, orthopedists specializing in cartilage restoration at Rush University Medical Center are offering these patients a state-of-the-art alternative: cartilage transplants, which have been used for years to repair other joints, such as the knee and hip. Rush is the only hospital in Illinois — and one of the few nationwide — offering cartilage transplants for the shoulder.

With cartilage restoration, injured tissue can be replaced with healthy tissue. Or, healthy cartilage cells are taken from the patient and used to grow millions of new cells, which are then inserted into the shoulder.

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