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OA, Cartilage, and Exercise

December 12, 2012

Cartilage reduces friction in the knee during normal motion.

 

Osteoarthritis is caused by damage and inflammation of the bony aspects of the joint surface.  Cartilage is a joint’s first line of defense.  It is not surprising then to learn that people with healthy cartilage have less osteoarthritis, and that unhealthy cartilage makes osteoarthritis worse.  It is important to protect and maintain cartilage in order to avoid severe osteaorthritis.

In order to preserve your cartilage, you must understand how it recieves its nutrients.  Unlike bone, which recieves its nourishment from its blood supply, cartilage is very poorly vascularized.  Instead of getting nutrients from the blood stream, cartilage collects nutrients from the synovial fluid.  This is crucial, because it means that increasing motion can push nutrients out of the synovium and into the cartilage.

While it is undisputed that exercise can reduce osteoarthritis, it has been considered to be a mixed blessing; it was thought that losing weight would help osteoarthritis, but exercise might damage joints in the process.  This is not the case!  Exercise encourages healthy cartilage, which protects and insulates the joint surfaces.  So exercise with no reservations.  Athletic activity will improve your osteoarthritis.



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