What can I do About Damaged Cartilage?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2019
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Dealing effectively with damaged cartilage can involve a number of different strategies, ranging from the use of exercises that support the healing process to undergoing surgery. The exact methods used to manage the cartilage repair and healing will depend on the location of the damage, as well as the severity. Here are some examples of treatments routinely used to deal with different types of cartilage problems.

Often, damaged cartilage is capable of healing over time, without any invasive procedure needed. This is especially true if stress can be removed from the damaged area. Using some type of supporting device, such as a leg brace or a walking cane, helps to relieve stress on the cartilage and allow the natural healing to move along at a normal pace. Athletic bandages may also be used to help minimize stress on the damage, an approach that may be especially helpful when knee pain is involved.

Along with using supporting equipment and devices to minimize movement in the area, making some temporary lifestyle changes will also help the damaged cartilage to heal. Cutting back on strenuous activities will alleviate stress and help ease the chances of inflammation interfering with the healing. Once the cartilage is healed, the level of activity can be incrementally increased, although taking measure to prevent the cartilage from a recurrence of the damage is recommended.


In many cases, painkillers are a necessary part of dealing with damaged cartilage. Inflammation is often an issue. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or ibuprofen work very well for some people. However, consult your doctor before using either of these medications, as they may aggravate other health issues.

Some type of physical therapy may also be helpful in the case of damaged cartilage. The general idea is to strengthen the muscles in the immediate area of the damage. This helps to increase support to the cartilage injury, thus relieving some of the stress. The additional support will also help reduce pain and possibly ease some of the inflammation as well.

While treating damaged cartilage is often a combination of medication and taking steps to relieve strain on the area, there are situations where surgery is necessary. This includes situations where joint inflammation is unresponsive to various attempts to reduce the swelling, or where health issues such as osteoarthritis are present. A qualified physician can determine if the situation merits the use of surgery. However, be aware that non-surgical methods are likely to be employed first, unless the diagnosis clearly indicates the damage can only be reversed by an invasive procedure.


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Post 4

@Oceana – I had cartilage damage in my knee during a car wreck, and I recovered with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The rest part was very important, because I needed to keep the weight off of my knee. I had to hobble around for a couple of months, and I couldn't exercise.

My friend also had knee cartilage damage, but she had it worse than I did. She had to wear a knee brace, but it did recover without surgery.

It all depends on how the injury occurs and how severe it is. There's no way to tell until a doctor looks at it.

Post 3

My kid plays soccer, and I worry about all the things that could happen to her. If she were to experience a knee cartilage injury, would it likely require surgery? We don't have good health insurance, and I don't know how we could afford something like this.

Post 2

@Perdido – An injured bone has the ability to heal itself by making more bone tissue. Cartilage damage takes longer to heal because the cartilage does not have this ability.

It also doesn't have blood vessels, so it heals more slowly than muscles. If you damage your cartilage, you will likely have a long road to recovery.

Post 1

Why does damaged cartilage heal slowly? I would think that since it's softer than bone, it would heal rather quickly.

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