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What Are the Different Types of Cartilage Injury?

Articular cartilage surrounds the larynx.
A diagram of the knee, showing the articular cartilage.
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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
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There are three different types of cartilage, including elastic cartilage, fibrocartilage, and hyaline cartilage. All three types of cartilage are susceptible to any kind of cartilage injury, but hyaline cartilage is frequently damaged more than any other kind of cartilage. A cartilage injury can occur due to a person's weight, age, or level of physical activity.

Articular cartilage is a type of hyaline cartilage that surrounds the larynx, ears, ribs, sternum, and other parts of the body. The main purpose of articular cartilage is to prevent bones from coming in contact with one another. This is precisely why two bone joints can work smoothly without causing any amount of friction or pain. When articular cartilage falls prey to any kind of cartilage injury, the result is stiffness, pain, and even inflammation.

Since cartilage doesn't have any kind of direct blood supply, a cartilage injury takes a long time to heal properly. In particular, the knee area is frequently susceptible to an articular cartilage injury. Any kind of direct impact to the knee area can cause articular damage, including falling, strain, and coming in contact with a sharp or blunt item. While these are the most common causes of knee damage, the cartilage that is within the knee can also fall prey to simple wear and tear.

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Over time, a person's knees become weak due to a lifetime of joint stress. When this occurs, the knees can become swollen, immobile, and stiff. It is not uncommon for an obese person to experience osteoarthritis, which is the result of cartilage injury. Another reason why cartilage becomes damaged is lack of activity. People who are bed stricken often experience cartilage damage, since the joints need to function on a regular basis in order to remain healthy.

The best way to determine whether or not a person is suffering from cartilage injury is with a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). This type of scan can only be performed by a medical professional, and cartilage damage can hardly ever be diagnosed with the naked eye. Generally, people who have been diagnosed with knee-related cartilage damage will undergo arthroscopic surgery.

Any person experiencing swelling, pain, stiffness, or lack of mobility within any area of the body should seek medical attention. Through a combination of pain reducing medicine, physical therapy, and prosthesis, the pain caused by cartilage damage subsides. No matter what kind of cartilage damage a person has experienced, this type of injury will not vanish without proper medical attention.

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