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Cartilage lesions

The Basics

Articular cartilage is a type of connective tissue on the ends of long bones. It facilitates movement, making it easier for bones to slide past each other at the joint. The cartilage can be torn from acute trauma like a dislocation, or as a result of wear and tear over time. It can also be injured following certain issues like osteochondritis, which occurs when decreased blood flow to a bone under cartilage causes part of the bone to die, causing both the bone and cartilage to crack and break off.

Though cartilage tears can be difficult to predict, aspects of prevention are in the patient’s control. A family history of arthritis or cartilage problems, a shoulder dislocation, weightlifting and other overhead sports, and occupations with overhead lifting can put one at risk for a cartilage tear.


Avoiding repetitive overhead movements and heavy lifting, or using proper form during these movements can help decrease the risk of a cartilage tear. Stretching and warming up before exercise and practicing good posture can help prevent this condition.

Signs and symptoms

You may have a cartilage tear if you experience pain lifting the arm over the head, weakness, a decreased range of motion, night pain, or a clicking or grinding sensation at the shoulder joint.  


To treat this injury, rest the shoulder, and try physical therapy or over the counter pain medications. If pain persists, steroid injections or surgery are possibilities.


One surgical procedure for this issue is arthroscopic debridement, where a surgeon will employ small incisions and a camera to clear the joint of damaged tissue. Surgeons can also opt to repair the cartilage, or perform a shoulder replacement if the injury is sev

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