CARTILAGE AND OSTEOARTHRITIS: WHAT IS THE CONNECTION?
You would have seen us talk a bit about cartilage in the previous 2 articles, but let's get into it in a bit more detail now. Cartilage is a strong, flexible connective tissue that protects your joints and bones. It acts as a shock absorber throughout your body.1 Essentially, it enables nearly frictionless joint motion.2
It is responsible for three main functions within your body:
Absorbing shock: Cartilage cushions your bones and joints when you move and use them.
Reducing friction: The cartilage and the fluid in your joints, help the bones slide past each other without rubbing together.
Supporting structures in your body: Cartilage helps your joints keep their shape while moving.1
SO YOU MAY BE WONDERING WHAT THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CARTILAGE AND OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA) IS...
Well, OA occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones in your joints gradually wear down over time.2 Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, bone will rub on bone which causes the pain felt when OA is left untreated.2 This is why OA has often been referred to as the “wear and tear” disease.
The destruction of joint cartilage causes pain, swelling and reduced movement of the affected joints.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF OA IS LEFT UNTREATED?3
The damage will persist and worsen as the cartilage will offer less protection resulting in the irritants doing more damage to the affected joints. The healing process of the cartilage slows down and the flare-ups will continue. Eventually as the cartilage disappears, the bone is exposed and the pain will become much worse.