Microfracture Surgery: Boon or Bust

June 13, 2018 Sports

ACL injuries have hampered the egos and careers of professional athletes. In order to address the clamor of athletes for an efficient remedy for such an injury, Dr. Richard Steadman of the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic has come up with the knee surgery known microfracture surgery. He developed this   arguably efficient knee repair surgery for professional athletes who were severely injured their knee. However, Steadman first initiated the surgery with horses. Medical experts and sports pundits have expressed skeptic speculations due to the notion that the surgery has no studies of its consequent long-term effects.

Microfracture surgery can either improve or worsen an athlete’s future career. Eventually, Steadman together with other researchers have proven that microfracture surgery is effective and safe, yet the long term effects of the surgery can be subjective (Lowry, 2005). The orthopedic technique will help in the recuperation of the knee cartilage. It applies small fractures in adjacent bones, which will generate a fresh set of cartilage. Microfracture surgery takes about half an hour to culminate; it is faster compared to other knee surgeries. Successful surgeries done in professional basketball players have caused most orthopedic surgeons to promote the procedure to professional athletes.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Although the microfracture procedure is faster to culminate compared to other knee surgeries, the surgery itself is done in a very keen and meticulous manner. It is aided by the process known as arthroscopy. Damaged and worn-out cartilage is removed in order for new ones to generate. Small fractures require to be created on the adjacent bones. Gradually, a blood clot from the bone marrow is formed, which will then produce cells that will form the new cartilage. These small fractures created during surgery are deemed an injury, which is why the system reacts to it through the formation of new cartilage.

Arguably, microfracture surgery is effective, yet it is not that effective for less athletic individuals (Lowry, 2005). There are a handful of principles to be implied in order to perform a successful microfracture surgery, among these are: weight-bearing and range of motion. An ample amount of weight should be considered during operating on the portion of the injury. The individual concerned should know where the portion he was operated on in order to avoid applying excess weight on that portion of the knee. The less weight it endures the more chances of regenerating faster.

The person is subjected to almost 2 months of weight bearing in order to recuperate. Professional athletes even take a year’s hiatus before returning to their tremendous athletic form. NBA players are sidelined for the entire season in order to rehabilitate their knees. Knee rehabilitation is a must in order for the knees to strengthen after the surgery, as well as to regain the form they have. This is where the range of motion principle enters the picture. It is initiated right after the knee wound has healed. Knee movement is limited if ever the surgery was performed on the kneecap itself.

Motion machines are recommended by surgeons in order to aid the individual in performing necessary movements after the surgery. However, some surgeons believed that range of motion exercises are more effective in helping a person regain apt knee movement. Early exercises are suggested in order to trigger proper cartilage growth (Cluett, 2007).

Operation and Rehabilitation: The Synergy of Healing

The success of microfracture surgery lies not only on the operation, but on the rehabilitation procedure as well. Surgeons have always emphasized that in order to attain effective and more than satisfactory results, one must obliged to a strict 8-week rehabilitation program. Doctor Steadman is to be accounted for with the holistic rehabilitation process, which will fasten the recovery of the knee wound. Steadman uses angled picks in order to create the tiny fractures needed to cause blood clots.

The surgery also treats the subject into an arthroscopic alternative to a process of chondral resurfacing with minimum heat necrosis, rough surface for blood clot attachment and retention of subchondral plate (DiMarcantonio, 2007). Traumatic lesions in athlete’s knees are also treated by microfracture surgery. Surgeons usually operation and apply the process of abrasion arthroplasty with microfracture in degenerative joint disease lesions.

Steadman has promoted the microfracture surgery in order to address the professional athlete’s knee problems, and has been quite popular among professional basketball players. That is why he is always bent and finding ways to improve the whole process of microfracture surgery. Steadman exclaimed the importance of microfracture surgery as an operation:

“We want to get to every point in the joint and create a perpendicular hole in the subchondral bone,” “In order to do that, we had three different angles of picks. … I never had a situation where I could not get a perpendicular hole in the joint, whether posterolateral or posteromedial.”The thing you have to remember about this procedure is it’s a natural process,”  “This is the way the body is meant to heal itself with a little bit of help from us.” (Steadman, 2007).

NBA players and athletes should keep in mind that engaging in strenuous physical activities would hamper the recovery process of the operation. Rehabilitation is essential in maximizing the apparent success of microfracture surgery. Yet some athletes are stubborn enough to ignore such, which further aggravates the knee wound.

With this in mind, the surgery will b deemed ineffective, and could result into more knee injuries as well. That is why surgeons and physical therapists have emphasized the importance of the rehabilitation program in order for the knee to regain its normal form. During the knee rehabilitation process, the knee bone marrow is subjected into an ideal environment in which marrow cells can develop into cartilage cell lines (Steadman, 2007). Cartilage regeneration and development is bolstered by the ideal chemical environment together with the ideal physical environment.


The microfracture surgery becomes subjective, and there are a handful of factors: The size of defect, the location of defect, and the state of the ACL during the operation. All these are to be considered in ascertaining the outcome of the surgery. The concept of microfracture surgery speaks for itself. The surgery only aids and repairs the knee joint, and not the holistic mentality of the professional athlete. Bear in mind that ACL injuries place the egos and careers of professional athletes at risk. It depends on them if their mind can endure what their knee endured. Microscopic surgery is a mere knee surgery, yet it brings forth many issues for a professional athlete.


Lowry,V. (2005). Older knees have a new option. New York Times .Reprinted with permission in

 Steadman-Hawkins Research Foundation newsletter, Vol 11.

Cluett,J. (2007).Microfracture Rehabilitation. Retrieved March 22, 2008, from



I'm Amanda

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out