I Have Knee Osteoarthritis. Why Doesn’t My Knee Cartilage Heal By Itself?

Chances are you know someone who has knee pains or knee osteoarthritis. The most common cause is the wear and tear of the cartilage cushioning the knee joint as we move. Most people when first confronted with knee osteoarthritis is to ask, “How do I get this to heal?”. Unfortunately, cartilage wear-and-tear in knee osteoarthritis does not heal well. This is because of the lack of a good blood supply to the damaged area.

One of the key mechanism for tissue repair -regardless of knee osteoarthritis or other conditions- is a healthy blood supply. Blood cells, including oxygen-rich red blood cells, arrive to help build new tissue. Chemical signals instruct cells to create collagen, which serves as a type of scaffolding, and other tissues to begin the repair process. Occasionally, you see the result of this process as a scar that starts out red and eventually dulls. Within a week, the repair is 10 percent as strong as the original.

Knee Cartilage Tears

Unfortunately, the menicus, the cartilage in the knee, has a very poor supply of blood vessel supporting this tissue. Furthermore, only the outer 20% of the meniscus where the blood supply is can heal with a period of immobilisation but this is unfortunately a rare circumstance. This is why knee cartilage -in the case of knee osteoarthritis- doesn’t heal by itself.

Experiencing knee pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for knee pain relief and how Core Concepts can help