Throughout the medical community, the general belief is that once the cartilage is damaged, the body is unable to regrow it. Would you believe that it's not only possible, but happens all the time under the right conditions?
The human body has an astonishing self-healing capacity and it is endlessly working to repair and regenerate itself. Cells possess the ability to repair themselves, as well as to make new cells that replace those that have been permanently damaged or destroyed. Cartilage cells - the so-called chondrocytes - can also multiply under certain circumstances. Already in 1972 Swedish researchers recorded evidence of cell proliferation in osteoarthritic cartilage. How come that after so many years the majority of doctors still keep telling you that your damaged cartilage will never ever heal itself?
The answer lies in the structure of cartilage: unlike other connective tissues like bones, cartilage has no blood supply. Generally, efficient blood circulation is essential in tissue repair. In fact, blood carries the building materials that the body needs as well as the energy required to build up its parts. Blood plays an important role in transporting oxygen and nutrients as well as removing debris, bacteria and foreign bodies. Therefore, the more blood flow you have going to an area, the faster you start to heal. This is the reason why bones heal more quickly - they have many blood vessels.
As for cartilage, it lacks blood vessels which may explain why the medical community believes that once damaged, articular cartilage will not heal on its own. But nothing could be further from the truth! The good news is that it is truly able to repair itself even without the help of blood. There is a special material with an egg-like consistency - called synovial fluid - which takes the role of the missing blood supply. When a joint is moved during a load-bearing exercise, the synovial fluid is squeezed in and out of the articular cartilage to nourish it and take away its waste products. This simple mechanism also enables cartilage regeneration.
Indeed, it takes a while until a damaged cartilage is repaired, but incorporating certain lifestyle changes into your daily routine can boost cartilage growth. These lifestyle changes and everything you need to know about osteoarthritis are discussed in my ebook.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more blog posts!
Teo D. Galfrie