Cartilage only repairs where it connects to vascular tissue, as it does not have blood vessels or nerves of its own. This means cartilage regeneration and repair occurs extremely slowly, often being replaced by fibrous scar tissue instead. Contemporary medicine is creating effective methods of cartilage repair.
Cartilage regeneration occurs with specialized cells called chondrocytes. Modern medicine can remove healthy chondrocytes, grow them in a laboratory setting and implant them in areas where cartilage damage has occurred, such as in the knees and shoulders of athletes. Additionally, a procedure can implant the meniscus, a cartilage cushion between the upper and lower leg bones at the knee, harvested from a cadaver.