When it comes to sports injuries, one of the most common problems that can arise is cartilage damage and, depending on the kind of trauma involved, it can take a very long time to recover from this… or even be impossible, depending on the severity of the damage.
Cartilage itself is the flexible connective tissue that surrounds the ends of the bones and cushions the spaces in your joints where your bones meet, helping to protect both your bones and joints as you move around.
There are three main functions that cartilage serves: shock absorption, reducing the amount of stress impacts will have on your bones; friction reduction, helping your bones move past each other without rubbing and reducing wear and tear; and helping joints to maintain their shape, as well as connecting tendons, ligaments and muscles to each other and your bones.
Cartilage can be damaged or torn by playing sport or getting regular exercise, so it’s important to ensure that you maintain correct form to help protect it as you go. Common injuries like separated shoulders or torn meniscuses can be especially damaging.
However, cartilage can also break down as a natural part of the ageing process and this can lead to inflammation and pain because there is less lubrication and cushioning around the bones and joints.
With injuries, it’s possible that they’ll heal on their own if you give them enough time and rest the affected area, although you may need to have surgery depending on the trauma sustained.
Physiotherapy can also prove useful when it comes to cartilage injuries, particularly when the knee is affected. There are various exercises you can do and your physio will design a bespoke treatment plan for you, based on your injury.
This will typically involve extensive rehabilitation and exercise programmes, but can also include hydrotherapy, balance exercises, taping and sports injury rehab. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us today.