What is cartilage damage?

Cartilage damage is a prevalent form of injury. Generally, it often involves the knees but the other joints such as the ankles, hips and elbows can be affected as well.

It is important to note that the cartilage is a sturdy, flexible tissue found all over the body. It covers the joint surfaces and serves as a shock absorber and enables bones to glide on one another. It can be damaged from an abrupt injury such as in sports or gradual wear and tear.

Minor cartilage damage settles on its own in a few weeks, but severe cases might necessitate surgical repair.

What are the indications?


Joint pain or discomfort can persist even while at rest and worsen if weight is placed on the joint.

The indications of cartilage damage in a joint typically include:

  • Joint pain or discomfort – this can persist even while at rest and worsen if weight is placed on the joint
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling – this might not arise for a few hours or days
  • Grinding or clicking sensation
  • Catching, locking or sensation that the joint is about to “give away”

Management of cartilage damage

There are several self-care measures that are usually suggested as part of the initial treatment for minor joint injuries.

During the initial few days, you should:

  • Protect the area with cartilage damage from further injury with a knee brace for added support
  • Allow the affected joint enough time to rest
  • Raise the affected limb and place an ice pack on the joint regularly
  • Provide pain medications or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

It is recommended to seek medical care if the symptoms are serious or do not seem to improve after a few days. The doctor might recommend physiotherapy or even surgery.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on cartilage damage is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to proper manage an injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Winnipeg First Aid.


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