Can Cartilage Heal on Its Own?

Can Cartilage Heal on Its Own?

When you experience a broken bone or a cut on your skin, your body delivers healing nutrients to the damaged area via your bloodstream. However, since cartilage doesn’t have a direct blood supply, it lacks the ability to promote effective healing on its own. 

Articular cartilage is the tough but smooth tissue that covers and cushions the ends of your bones where they are connected to form joints. Different types of cartilage exist in other parts of your body, such as your nose and ears.

Articular cartilage prevents the bones from rubbing against each other and causing friction and pain. This substance is soft enough to change its shape and absorb compression in your joints when you sit, stand, or perform other movements like moving your wrist. 

Treating damaged cartilage requires an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan since it can improve on its own. In Chicago, Illinois, interventional pain management physician Shoeb Mohiuddin, MD, and the team at Regenerative Pain & Spine have the expertise necessary to diagnose and improve cartilage in areas such as your knee, shoulder, or hip with a range of therapies.

How cartilage gets damaged

As cartilage protects bones, it can become damaged by the normal wear and tear it experiences as it bears heavy loads over decades. This type of damage, called degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis, develops over several decades of use. While the damage may start in a localized area, it can progress to involve larger areas in which the cartilage wears away. 

Articular damage can also occur from other circumstances, including:

Articular cartilage damage often occurs in the knee, but it can also affect your ankle, hip, or shoulder. 

How damaged cartilage affects you

While damaged cartilage isn’t evident from observation, the condition causes various symptoms that are likely to indicate a problem. Pain and/or swelling in the affected joint are common. 

Stiffness, a reduced range of motion, and the inability to fully extend or bend the affected joint are also signs of damaged cartilage. You may also experience a grating, popping, or crackling sound when moving the joint. Some cartilage damage can make it feel like the affected joint is unstable or may give way. 

Treatment for damaged cartilage

The most effective treatment for damaged cartilage depends on the type and severity of your condition. Other characteristics, including your age, overall condition, physical activity level, and post-treatment goals, are considered in your treatment recommendations. 

Nonsurgical treatment

Nonsurgical treatment can relieve symptoms and slow or prevent cartilage degeneration. While these treatments can improve symptoms, reduce pain, and increase mobility, they can’t repair articular cartilage that is worn or defective. They may be effective in improving the change in quality of life that can result from arthritis. 

Nonsurgical treatment for cartilage damage can include:

Regenerative medicine

Regenerative medicine involves boosting the regeneration of damaged cartilage by stimulating your body’s natural repair mechanisms. 


Several surgical treatments can be used to relieve symptoms and repair damaged articular cartilage. These therapies, which are typically performed arthroscopically, can be effective in treating cartilage damage in a specific targeted area, depending on your damage and overall condition. 

Find out more about ways to repair or restore cartilage damaged by wear and tear or injury. To schedule a consultation, call one of our offices in Chicago’s West Ridge area. 

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