Rebuilding cartilage health: One more benefit of chiropractic adjustments

by | Apr 19, 2011 | Joint Health | 5 comments

chiropractic treatment

Cartilage is an example of a bodily tissue that’s been honed to a high degree of perfection over our million plus years of evolutionary development.

(Quick anatomy refresher course:  cartilage covers the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint.)

Here’s one example of its design genius:  The friction between two cartilage surfaces is ridiculously low.  The coefficient of friction between joint surfaces has been estimated to be 0.001.  By comparison, the friction between two Teflon surfaces – one of the smoothest human-designed interfaces – is forty times higher.

Cartilage forms about as optimal a joint lining as we could ever hope to engineer.

Superman has his fatal weakness, and so does cartilage.

Despite its brilliant design, damage to cartilage is a feature of almost any type of joint problem you could have.  For instance:

  • If you play tennis, you can create fissures in the cartilage of your knee or shoulder.
  • A ballet dancer can stress the cartilage lining the hip joint, leading to future hip replacement surgery.
  • And if you’re over sixty, chances are you’ve experienced low back or neck stiffness from the gradual deterioration of joint cartilage.

Superman is vulnerable to kryptonite.  Cartilage’s vulnerability?  It doesn’t have a direct blood supply.  Cartilage can only get nourishment (and can only rid itself of waste products) through passive diffusion.

Fortunately, every time you compress cartilage, fluids are squeezed out.  When the compression is released, fluids are sucked back in.

For example, as you walk, your knees (and the cartilage inside them) take turns bearing weight.  When you step on your right foot, fluids and waste products are being squeezed out of the right knee cartilage, while fresh nutrients are being absorbed by the left.  And vice versa.

It’s out with the bad air, in with the good.

That’s the process by which cartilage maintains its health – balanced, periodic loading.

Movement keeps cartilage healthy

But what happens when

  • You’re not as active as you should be?
  • Your joints are compacted, so they don’t experience normal cycles of loading and unloading?
  • Your joints are out of balance, so that certain sections of your cartilage take all the wear?

You get cartilage degeneration. Also known as arthritis.

Preventing arthritis

Medical doctors will tell you that there’s no cure for arthritis.  Technically they’re right. But that doesn’t mean you have to stand idly by while your joints deteriorate.

Healthy joints require balanced, physiologic joint motion to maximize cartilage nourishment.  That’s where your own physical activity and chiropractic joint adjustments shine.

An adjustment creates passive movement of the joint.  That gives an instant nutrition boost to cartilage.  But we chiropractors believe there’s an extra bonus.

The adjustment is designed to restore optimal movement dynamics of the joint, so that your normal activities load the weight-bearing surfaces evenly.  That’s the way your joints were designed to operate – not the distorted way they’ve actually been operating due to lack of use, misuse, and postural distortion.

When normal motion is restored, all parts of the joint cartilage are nourished by ordinary daily movement.

The cartilage-nourishing benefits of the adjustment carry forward for hours or days after your chiropractic treatment.

A lead suit makes Superman impervious to kryptonite.  Chiropractic slows down joint degeneration to protect you from arthritis.

Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.


  1. Tricia

    How do I know that the chiropractors are hitting the right areas?

    • Tricia

      I need specific areas. I am concerned about those areas being addressed

    • Ron Lavine, DC

      Hi Tricia – this is a good question. Chiropractic treatment is based on an analysis of your symptoms, areas of pain, history of injury, and other factors. Plus, I examine you to determine which areas are of the most concern. That way, the treatment can be targeted to the most important zones. I hope this answers your question.

  2. G

    Can cartilage in metatarsal be helped

    • Ron Lavine, DC

      Just like the cartilage of all other joints, the cartilage at the ends of the metatarsal bones should respond to some degree to proper nutrition and joint mobilization. However, once there’s been cartilage degeneration (arthritis) these methods aren’t a miracle cure and probably can’t fully reverse the damage.


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