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What is Cartilage Inflammation?

Dan Cavallari
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Cartilage inflammation, or chondritis, occurs when cartilage in any location throughout the body becomes inflamed, often leading to pain and swelling. Cartilage is found in the joints of the body as well as other parts of the body such as the sternum; cartilage inflammation can happen for a variety of reasons, including arthritis or simple overuse. Tougher than muscle and ligament tissue, cartilage is not quite as strong as bone, so if cartilage inflammation occurs, it is usually an indicator of another, more serious problem such as arthritis. The RICE treatment can be used to alleviate pain associated with cartilage problems.

The RICE treatment includes the following steps: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These steps allow the inflammation to heal itself, which it is likely to do if afforded the opportunity. More serious cases of inflammation may be more persistent, however, and a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce the inflammation. Such medications may take some time to be effective, and taking such medications must be combined with sufficient rest.

One of the most common types of cartilage inflammation is costochondritis, which occurs when the cartilage of the ribs becomes inflamed. This type of inflammation can become quite painful; many people who suffer from costochondritis often mistake the pain for a heart attack. Since the pain associated with this inflammation can mimic the pain of more serious conditions, it is advisable to see a doctor immediately if chest pain arises. Costochondritis is often the result of some sort of injury or strain, and it is best treated with rest and often anti-inflammatory medication.

Cartilage inflammation in the joints can be especially troublesome because it can inhibit movement and affect one's ability to participate in daily activities. Sufferers of arthritis must often deal with this kind of inflammation. The RICE treatment can be used to manage pain, and medications are available to help relieve some of the pain associated with this inflammation. In rarer cases, surgery may be necessary to remedy the cause of the inflammation, which can be bone deformities that result from arthritis-associated degradation.

Blood flow to cartilage is quite low, meaning healing time can be prolonged. In some cases, the cartilage cannot repair itself at all and scar tissue develops. If the cartilage breaks down enough, joint replacement surgery may be necessary to prolong the usefulness of a particular joint. This procedure can be quite painful and the rehabilitation associated with it can take several months.

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon251948 — On Mar 03, 2012

I recently heard that rubbing the affected parts with castor oil helps. I started to treat my knee by rubbing the oil on my knee with downward strokes. My pain is gone already! I am still treating my husband's hips with the oil. He is already feeling better. But be warned: it can take up to three years to be cured. Patience pays.

By Clairdelune — On Aug 29, 2011

@livealot - I'm in about the same boat as you are. I used to be able to keep up with my regular activities, but now the cartilage in my knees has become quite inflammed and painful.

I'm trying a number of things to reduce the pain and inflammation' so I can be more active.

I'm trying to lose some weight because even a little extra weight can cause stress to the knees. I take an elevator instead of the stairs when I can.

Almost everyday, I do the RICE method. Rest - but not too long, ice - twice a day, I use ice packs that fit snugly around the knee, compression and elevation. I'm looking into a device that feeds electrical impulses into the joint area to increase blood flow, which reduces inflammation and pain.

I take over-the-counter pain relievers, but they aren't too effective. I don't know if I want to take any stronger pain medicine.

I bought a CD that has a one hour exercise program especially designed for people with arthritis. I walk a couple of miles about three times a week.

That's about all I can do. I'm hoping it helps.

By live2shop — On Aug 29, 2011

Osteoarthritis of the knees, feet, hips, and hands is really a frustrating condition. It kind of creeps up on you. It's starts as just an occasional twinge of pain and just gradually gets worse. I've had arthritis of the knees and feet for several years now.

It gets worse the more you put heavy impact on your lower extremities, like walking on cement and going up and down stairs. Mine has gotten more painful and inflamed. But I want to put off knee joint replacement and foot surgery as long as possible.

Anyone have any suggestions to slow down the progression of the disease?

By Sinbad — On Aug 29, 2011

@saraq90 - I have not heard that lower impact exercises like pilates or yoga prevents arthritis or inflammation of the cartilage but I have gathered that overall exercise is good for you and your joints.

The interesting thing I have seen is that yoga or pilates with an educated instructor, who is informed of exercises for arthritis and such conditions is recommended for people who have arthritis. So if you can do it while you have arthritis, one has to wonder if it would help prevent it.

*Especially* considering that flexibility, which you gain from yoga and pilates, is often sited as a way to prevent injury.

Also where things get sticky is where low-impact aerobics (where you slide your body side to side or march as opposed to jumping and other heavy weight bearing exercises) help the cushioning disks in your vertebrae.

Further murking up the water is that cross-training is also supposed to be key. Which makes sense as many injuries seem to be from repetitive movements (carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, etc).

I am all for seeing a professional about your history, your family's history and what you want from your exercise routine to help you get the best answer!

By GrumpyGuppy — On Aug 28, 2011

When I was 8, I started having a lot of pain in my legs. I was sent to several different doctors and they agreed that I was having arthritis symptoms. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and I started taking anti-inflammatory medications.

I am now 40 years old and I have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Having inflammation in the body can be very painful. I am fortunate to have a doctor that has me on the right medications to reduce the pain.

By Saraq90 — On Aug 28, 2011

I had a friend who was an aerobics instructor and in her sixties, which I have heard is early for this procedure had to have a double knee replacement!

This is why I wonder if yoga and other exercises that do not incur as much pounding on the joints are the way to go to stay not only healthy fit-wise but joint and cartilage-wise?

Has anyone heard if running and aerobics are more likely to lead to arthritis symptoms or inflammation of the cartilage symptoms than exercises like yoga and pilates?

I have been a runner for years and now I am starting to wonder if this is the best way to treat my body...

By wander — On Aug 27, 2011

Joint replacement surgery is a terrible thing to have to go through, but sometimes it can be downright impossible to control cartilage inflammation and things can go from bad to worse.

My father was an active man through most of his life but he ended up developing severe inflammation in his joints. While medication helped a bit he just couldn't walk very well because his knee was giving him severe pain, even through the medicine he was taking.

Knee joint replacement is a complicated surgery and luckily it helped my dad regain some mobility. I really hope that the results hold and he doesn't have to go through the same thing again.

By drtroubles — On Aug 27, 2011

Arthritis can be very painful and I was shocked when my hands started to hurt to the point where I could barely type. I found out later that I had early-onset arthritis and that there was cartilage inflammation in my joints.

The doctor I went to prescribed me some anti-inflammatory medication and it really helped me get back to living a normal life. While I still do have some very bad flare ups, a bit of rest and an ice pack on my hands can really do wonders.

If you find yourself suffering from sore hands that ache, you should see your doctor. I was only 30 when I discovered I had arthritis, and you can get it even younger.

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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