David Menche M.D.
Repairing Articular Cartilage

The glistening white tissue that cover the ends of the bones (the joint surface) is both tough and resilient. It is not only important for smooth gliding of the joint, but also to “soften” the impact during loading, much the same as a shock absorber. Articular cartilage may not appear to be alive, but in fact it is. The number of cells (chondrocytes) which reside in the tissue is indeed small (approximately 1-5%), but they have the job of keeping the matrix around them healthy. Think of the cells as the few marshmallows suspended in a jello (the matrix) mold. As with most body tissues, there is a constant wear out and replacement activity of this matrix. The cells (marshmallows) keep the matrix (jello) repaired. Unfortuately, the cell themselves do not replicate.

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