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What is Cartilage Restoration?

Hyaline cartilage is the smooth, slippery material that lines the bones in every joint.  This wonderful tissue allows our bones to not grind together and cause arthritis.  Hyaline cartilage is soft, yet tough.  It resists impacts from walking, running and jumping, as well as gives us enough easy of movement to apply a very slow gentle bend to any joint, without friction.  The problem with cartilage is that it is notoriously slow to heal.  It doesn’t have its own blood supply.  Nutrients have to be absorbed through the synovial fluid within the joint.  The method it takes in this fluid is through a gentle sponge like action.  When the joint contracts, waste fluid is pushed out of the cartilage then when the joint is relaxed, nutrient rich fluid rushes back in again.

This method of nourishing the cartilage requires light activity over time.  Typically areas with cartilage damage require a degree of rehabilitory exercise as improper movement caused the cartilage damage in the first place.  The muscles surrounding the joint need to be treated first, to ensure proper mobility of the joint.  Once mobility is restored, mobility must be maintained by strengthening the surrounding musculature

As such, light movement is necessary for properly nourishing cartilage to heal effectively.  Moist heat, ultrasound therapy, LLLT, and therapeutic exercise can all stimulate cartilage to heal, if the area damaged is accessible.

With extensive damage to a cartilaginous area, like the meniscus of the knee, surgical debridement might be necessary.  If enough damage is done to the cartilage that the joint has started to deform (advanced arthritis) then surgical replacement is the only possibility.

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