The cartilage acts as a buffer, is elastically deformable and can absorb shocks, for example when walking. However, accidents or wear and tear can cause damage to the cartilage. The causes of such cartilage damage are manifold. In addition to a genetic predisposition, obesity is a risk factor, for example, and meniscus or cruciate ligament injuries also favor cartilage damage.
Since cartilage has no nerve fibers, the patient usually feels little at the beginning. However, with progression and inflammation, symptoms increase. Then the cartilage damage manifests itself as a crunching sensation, swelling or pain on exertion. Even at rest, the joint can then hurt. Since the tissue is not supplied with blood, there is little potential for regeneration - spontaneous healing is impossible. Rather, complaints increase in the course of time.
Although conservative treatment options are possible, these represent a purely symptomatic treatment. Healing, on the other hand, can only be achieved surgically. Various surgical methods, including cell transplantation, are available to restore the cartilage cover. However, if arthrosis (wear and tear) has already developed, surgical treatment is usually no longer possible. Therefore, the earlier it is recognized and treated, the greater the chances of recovery.
The good news is that a healthy lifestyle change can prevent it. It is important to avoid being overweight and to keep moving. Like muscles, cartilage can be "exercised." Studies have shown that the thickness of the cartilage layer decreases when it is relieved or spared. After a longer break from sport, those affected should therefore gradually build up the load again.
Nutrition also plays a role. Gluco samine and chondroitin sulfate are important components of this cartilage tissue. These substances are contained in seafood, for example, or can be supplied by certain dietary supplements.
However, the most important principle remains: You snooze, you rust - so watch your weight and keep moving!
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