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All About Cartilage

Understanding Osteoarthritis Basics

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Updated October 28, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

When you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis, your doctor may launch into a discussion about cartilage damage or cartilage being worn away. What exactly is cartilage? What causes cartilage loss? Can cartilage be restored?

There are three types of cartilage. Arthritis patients are most familiar with articular or hyaline cartilage -- present in the joints, nasal septum, and airtube. Elastic cartilage is found in the ear, part of the nose, and the airtube. Fibrous cartilage is found in the meniscus.

10 Things You Should Know About Cartilage
The most basic facts about cartilage are offered. This provides a good foundation for better understanding joint damage.

What Is Cartilage Loss?
Cartilage loss is defined by a decrease in cartilage volume and thickness, which over time may expose the underlying bone. In osteoarthritis, cartilage loss occurs is thought to occur through wear and deterioration.

New Insights into Causes of Osteoarthritis
Researchers have long tried to determine what causes cartilage degeneration associated with osteoarthritis. A breakthrough by scientists points to the loss of a specific protein from the surface layer of cartilage in joints.

Is Cartilage Regeneration an Option for Osteoarthritis?
Cartilage regeneration attempts to restore damaged articular (joint) cartilage. Several techniques have been used for cartilage regeneration. While it has been performed in Europe, cartilage regeneration is, for the most part, experimental in the United States.

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