Cartilage is a soft tissue found in your joints where it serves as cushions between bones. Injuries to cartilage may be relatively common, but that doesn’t make the pain any easier to deal with.
There is a myth that cartilage injuries, like a tear, do not ever heal or grow back. The truth is that it can heal, but it’s staggeringly more difficult — and significantly slower — to heal a cartilage injury than a muscle or bone injury.
Seeking treatment when you suspect a cartilage tear or injury is important. If left untreated you could suffer pain and life-long difficulties.
Why Cartilage Has Trouble Healing
The cartilage found in our joints is called Hyaline Cartilage. It is glassy and smooth so the bones connecting at our joints can glide over each other during movement. But when damaged cartilage heals, it doesn’t always retain the same slippery state it had prior to injury. Cartilage can grow back with characteristics of scar tissue and fibrous cartilage, which is not ideal for joint movement.
The healing process is complicated by two unique cartilage distinctions.
- Cartilage does not have nerves. This means that by the time you feel pain and other symptoms of a cartilage injury, it has likely already led to bone damage and it is the nerves in the bone that are signaling the pain.
- Cartilage is avascular, meaning it does not have a blood supply, so there is very little nourishment to help the cells multiply and heal the damaged area.
Because of its difficulty healing and growing back, the amount of cartilage in our bodies is often considered finite; what we have is what we have. Keeping it safe and intact is critical.
What To Do If You Suspect a Cartilage Injury
Cartilage is an unsung hero in our body. Without it, we would experience bones grinding on each other and not be able to withstand shock such as running or going down stairs. This soft tissue makes pain-free movement possible.
If you overuse a joint or suffer from degeneration, you may lose cartilage sooner than others.
Those who are at risk for cartilage injury or tears include younger athletes who suffer an injury, and older adults who are experiencing age-related wear-and-tear of cartilage. If you think you may have endured a cartilage injury or tear, seek medical care from an expert. The sooner the better.
Early warning signs of cartilage damage include:
- Poor joint movement
- Joint inability
- The joint is visibly injured or out of alignment
- The pain is not controllable with over the counter medicines
Always Seek Medical Advice for Cartilage Injuries
If left untreated, you could continue to experience pain and other symptoms as well as impeded function of the joint with the cartilage damage. You may also have difficulty doing your normal daily activities as the injury worsens.
A main risk of leaving a cartilage injury untreated is the joint damage that can occur from a lack of proper bone protection. This joint damage can manifest in deformities, misalignment, and limited movement. In severe cases, bone-on-bone grinding can produce bone fragments that may cause damage to nearby muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues.
Cartilage Injury Treatment at Oasis Orthopedic & Spine
Never let a suspected cartilage injury or tear go untreated. The experts at Oasis Orthopedic & Spine can diagnose and treat your injury.
Whether you have suffered an accident or are experiencing degenerative pain, we can help you find the relief you deserve starting with an accurate diagnosis. Start yours now with our online pain assessment tool below.