Cartilaginous tissue, more commonly known as “cartilage”, is an elastic tissue whose matrix is responsible for supporting cells known as “chondrocytes”. They are really very important in our day to day life, and in many cases, they can hurt or be bothersome. Learn how to treat and prevent cartilage pain.
Cartilage: what you need to know
Cartilage “cushions” the femoral surfaces and cavities, lessening blows or falls when walking or running, and preventing abrasion of the joints. They are a support structure that serves to provide mobility. In the human body, there are three types of cartilage:
- Hyaline cartilage consists of collagen fibrils, and it is the most abundant group, as it is present in the larynx, bronchi, ribs, trachea and joint ends of bones. It is nourished by synovial fluid and has few fibers.
- Fibrous cartilage (or fibrocartilage) has a thicker type of collagen, and it is present in the vertebral and articular discs, the meniscus, articular borders, and insertion zones, such as tendons and ligaments.
- Elastic cartilage is made up of elastic fibers and is found in the epiglottis, larynx, external ear, the Eustachian tube, and the ear canal. It is yellowish, and it makes up the pinna of the ear.
How to prevent cartilage wear
One of the main consequences of cartilage wear is osteoarthritis, a condition where the tissue that cushions and protects the external bone is lost or reduced. In most cases, patients with cartilage problems are adult women. Some tips for preventing cartilage deterioration are:
- Play sports or exercise regularly to prevent musculoskeletal injuries, taking into account certain characteristics, such as age or capabilities.
- Use sports equipment and footwear to cushion joint overload.
- See a doctor at the onset of swelling or pain to dismiss cartilage injury or inflammation in the synovium.
- Avoid obesity and being overweight, since these are direct causes of wear on the cartilage. Follow a balanced, healthy diet.
- Avoid movements that cause more pain or limit the use of affected joints.
- Exercise only when the area is not swollen, preventing its flaccidity.
How does wear on the cartilage occur?
Cartilage wear causes pain and swelling and difficulty walking, standing, etc. due to bone friction. The early symptoms are:
- The structure of cartilage begins to lose its strength and is more likely to be injured or hurt by impact or excessive use.
- The synovium or the lining of the joints becomes inflamed. This produces a protein called cytosine, causing more inflammation and damage.
- As the cartilage wears down, the bone is exposed and the joint loses its natural form, which forms spurs or ” bone shoots”.
- Cysts filled with a liquid and bits of cartilage form around the joint and bone, causing a lot of pain.
Foods that help build cartilage
In most cases, problems with worn or missing cartilage occur in the knees, which have to bear a lot of body weight when walking, standing, etc. There are many reasons why a person might suffer cartilage problems, get arthritis, pain or stiffness when wanting to get out of bed or a chair. Certain foods can help prevent cartilage deterioration and strengthen it.
Vegetables are the most recommended in this case. Most of them are low in calories and are good for losing weight or avoiding putting on weight. Remember that obesity is a risk factor when it comes to cartilage problems. Additional kilos are “carried” by the knees, causing more stress on the joints, muscles and of course cartilage. A diet with a high intake of raw vegetables can help reduce pain and weight loss. There are millions of healthy recipes that take full advantage of this food group.
Lean proteins are also very good for avoiding cartilage and joint pain. You can strengthen them with a reduced intake of saturated fat and increased lean protein, found in beans or tofu. In addition, seafood is very good because it offers omega-3 fatty acids (the good fat) that are good for reducing chronic inflammation. Feel free to eat tuna, salmon, herring, sardines, shrimp, oysters and scallops. Fish contains vitamin D, which reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Citrus fruits can help build and strengthen cartilage in knees because they have lots of vitamin C, which the body needs to synthesize collagen (it makes up part of the tendons, cartilage, and ligaments). A collagen deficiency can cause pain and inflammation, and also arthritis or gout if too much uric acid is produced. Don’t hesitate to eat oranges, grapes, tangerines, grapefruit, and lemons daily, as well as tomatoes, onions, peppers, and blackberries.
Dried fruit is excellent for patients who have cartilage problems. Don think twice before eating a handful of nuts and peanuts daily to provide your body a good dose of vitamin E. This also limits the intake of sugar and refined flour (bread, pasta, white rice).