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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.