The treatment used for cartilage pain may depend on the location of the cartilage and how it has been injured. Typically, however, a person can treat cartilage pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Other treatment methods include techniques to care for the injured part of the body to reduce swelling, which also helps to relieve pain. For individuals with serious cartilage injuries, surgery may be required to put a permanent stop to the pain.
Cartilage is found in parts of the body that need shock absorption, such as between bones. In this role, it protects the bones and joints from jarring movements. Cartilage has a compressible quality, which allows it to absorb and withstand force that could possibly shatter bone if the same force were applied to it. There are also other types of cartilage that provide structure for parts of the body, such as the earlobes.
Sometimes cartilage is torn. Such an injury can be very painful, and many people treat it with over-the-counter medications. Among those typically used to treat cartilage pain are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Drugs in this category include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. These medications not only help treat cartilage pain that develops because of an injury, but they also help reduce inflammation that contributes to pain.
Besides medications, a person may also apply ice to the affected area. This helps reduce swelling and treat cartilage pain. Resting the affected area and keeping it elevated may prove helpful as well. For example, if a person has torn cartilage in his knee, he may rest with it elevated above his heart level.
In some cases, treating cartilage injuries at home may be enough, and eventually the pain may subside. Some people may require surgery to repair the injured cartilage, however. The surgical procedure used to repair cartilage may vary, depending on where the injury is located and the extent of the damage. Surgeons may shave jagged cartilage down or sew it back together. In some cases, they may even remove a badly damaged portion of cartilage and replace it with donor cartilage.
A person may also experience pain when cartilage in his body becomes inflamed. For example, cartilage found between the rib and breastbone could become inflamed after an injury, infection, or even strain from sneezing and coughing. Such cartilage pain is often treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Muscle relaxers may be used as well.