Understanding the Function of Cartilage in the body

Understanding the Function of Cartilage in the body

London Cartilage Clinic

Written By London Cartilage Clinic

Cartilage is a naturally occurring bodily substance that plays a fundamental role in joint function and mobility. When cartilage becomes damaged or gets degraded, it can cause significant problems for patients through pain and a restricted range of motion. For those exploring treatment options for joint pain or stiffness, understanding cartilage’s function and the potential for regeneration through modern medical techniques is crucial. This article provides an overview of what cartilage is, its role in the body, and how cartilage repair techniques are advancing to aid those with joint issues.

What is Cartilage?

Cartilage is a specialised, fibrous connective tissue present in various forms throughout the body. It is most commonly found in joints, where it acts as a cushion between bones, allowing for smooth movement without friction. Unlike other types of tissue, cartilage does not have blood vessels; it relies on the diffusion of nutrients from surrounding fluids to maintain its health.

The Function of Cartilage

The primary function of articular (joint) cartilage is to provide a smooth, lubricated surface for articulation, to facilitate the transmission of loads with a low frictional coefficient. Essentially, cartilage ensures that our joints can move freely and without pain. It also absorbs shock when we engage in activities that put stress on our joints like running, jumping, or lifting.

The Process of Cartilage Degeneration and Repair

Cartilage degradation can occur due to age, injury, or diseases like osteoarthritis. Over time, this degradation impacts the structural integrity and function of the joint. The repair process, therefore, is focused on restoring as much of the original structure and function as possible. Innovations in cartilage repair, including regenerative medicine techniques, aim to mimic natural cartilage as closely as possible.

Modern Techniques in Cartilage Regeneration

Advancements in medical technology have led to several effective treatments for damaged cartilage. Techniques like microfracture surgery, autologous chondrocyte implantation, and the use of biocompatible scaffolds are helping patients regain joint functionality and reduce pain significantly. These methods focus on stimulating the growth of new cartilage, which involves seeding new chondrocytes directly into the affected area or encouraging the growth of these cells through scaffolding.


Cartilage is a crucial component of our joint system, providing the necessary support and flexibility to move freely and without pain. The London Cartilage Clinic team has specialist knowledge of cartilage injuries, its impact on the body, and the solutions available today. By understanding its function and the options available for repairing damaged cartilage, it is hoped that patients will be empowered to make more informed decisions about their health. Contact us to dscuss treatment options.

FAQs About Cartilage and Joint Health

Cartilage is primarily composed of water, collagen, proteoglycans, and chondrocytes. Each component plays a crucial role in its function and resilience.

Cartilage reduces friction in the joints and serves as a shock absorber, which is vital for normal joint function and preventing bone damage.

Cartilage has a limited capacity for self-repair because it does not have blood vessels. This makes treatment and intervention crucial for damaged cartilage.

Common signs include joint pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and swelling.

Treatments may include physical therapy, medications to reduce symptoms, and surgical interventions like cartilage regeneration techniques.

The effectiveness can vary, but many patients experience significant improvements in function and pain reduction. Techniques like microfracture surgery and autologous chondrocyte implantation are among the most promising.

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