Damage to the cartilage in whatever joint of the body can have harmful effects on the function of that joint. But first of all what is cartilage?
Cartilage is known as connective tissue in several parts of the body. Though it is a hard and supple material, it is relatively easy to damage. Cartilage is a rubbery and beautiful tissue which acts as a pad between the bones of joints. Persons with cartilage damage usually experience joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Now, did you know that Cartilage has numerous functions in the human body? Persons with cartilage damage usually experience joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. Below are some features of cartilage:
- Lessens friction and performs as a cushion among joints and helps upkeep our weight when we are stretching, bending, and running.
- Hold bones together, for example, the bones found in the ribcage.
- Certain body parts are made almost entirely of cartilage, for instance, the exterior portions of our ears.
- In kids, the ends of the long bones are a form of cartilage, which ultimately turns into bone.
When damage to the cartilage happens, the patient will eventually experience severe pain, inflammation, and some grade of disability – this is recognized as articular cartilage. NIH or (National Institutes of Health) denotes that, one-third of American adults aged over 45 experiences this kind of knee pain.
What are the symptoms?
Damage to the cartilage in a joint (articular cartilage damage) will cause:
- Inflammation or swelling – the area swells, becomes warmer compared to other parts of the body and is tender, aching, and soring.
- Range limitation – as the damage improves, the affected limb will not move as smoothly and effortlessly as before.
Articular cartilage damage most usually happens in the knee; however, the elbow, ankle, wrist, ankle, hip joint, and shoulder can also be affected. In significant cases of damage to the cartilage, a piece of cartilage can disrupt, and the area may become spotty and have a discolored appearance.
Always be careful when practicing sports. If you have a weak ankle, wear a tennis ankle brace in order to avoid getting damage to your cartilage in the future.
How to diagnose it?
Spotting the difference between cartilage damage in the knee and a sprain, or else ligament damage, is a bit hard because the symptoms can be alike. But modern non-invasive tests do the work more stress-free than it used to be. Right after the physical examination, the doctor will order the following diagnostic tests:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – In this examination, there is a magnetic field and radio waves used to take a detailed image of the body. Though useful, an MRI cannot always distinguish cartilage damage.
- Arthroscopy – Here there is a tube-like instrument or arthroscope inserted into a joint to inspect and repair it. This process can help to define the degree of cartilage damage.
What are the complications?
You should not leave broken cartilage in the joint untreated, mainly if it is a weight-bearing one, for instance the knee because it can ultimately become so damaged that the individual may not be able to walk. Apart from rigidity, the pain may gradually get worse.
Tiny articular cartilage defects can in time lead to osteoarthritis if given sufficient time.
Suggested Exercises for the patient
Patients with this type of injury are recommended to do exercises that are appropriate for an individual to reinforce the muscles around the joint. These exercises will decrease pressure on the area with the injured cartilage.
The Arthritis Foundation suggests:
- tender stretching to uphold a range of motion and flexibility
- aerobic exercises and endurance training are advised to attain or maintain a healthy weight and progress mood and stamina.
- firming exercises to accumulate the muscles around the joints
Although practice gives several benefits, it seems improbable to result in a regeneration of cartilage.