Rebuilding Cartilage Health: One More Rationale for Chiropractic Adjustments

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 be hav­ing.  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 research is work­ing to estab­lish the val­ue of adjust­ments in slow­ing down joint degen­er­a­tion and mak­ing you (rel­a­tive­ly) imper­vi­ous to arthri­tis.


About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website,, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.

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