Does anyone know of exercise or modality(ice/heat/tens) protocols that are supposed to increase joint cartilage bed thickness? This is excluding stem cell injections. I imagine that such a protocol would be more effective with children and younger athletes who still have stem cells present in their joints to create the repair. However I don't know if any research that measures stem cell density inside of joints for different age populations or for different exercise programs.


Articular cartilage, which covers the ends of bones in all synovial joints is avascular. Without a blood supply it is unable to heal or regenerate. Over time the loss of this cartilage is what causes the condition known as osteoarthritis.

The modalities you've listed are indicated for swelling / healing and pain management. So they'll only help with secondary symptoms that are seen with cartilage loss.

Stem Cells seem to offer the most promise but nothing has been approved yet.

Kobe Bryant had a non FDA approved treatment called Regenokine done in Russia, you can read about the procedure here.


Physician and Professor of Medicine David Rabago (Penn State University) has published multiple articles suggesting the modality known as prolotherapy stimulates cartilage re-growth, including a review article, a clinical study with pre/post-arthroscopic images of cartilage growth, and a basic science study on molecular mechanisms of which the poster is a co-author.

  • To avoid being accused of spam, you should disclose when you have a relationship with links you post, like when you're an author of the papers or have worked with the author. Also, importantly, Stack Exchange answers must stand for themselves. Though it is fine to link to and required to cite outside resources here at MedicalSciences.SE, readers shouldn't have to leave the site for a complete answer. Dec 23 '20 at 22:51
  • @BryanKrause I appreciate you helping me to improve my first post to StackExchange. What additional information do you think would be helpful for a more complete answer? How physicians administer prolotherapy in practice? Background on the history of the procedure? More details on cartilage biology? Potential differences in therapeutic effectiveness across age groups? Dec 23 '20 at 23:08
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    I'd give more specific suggestion but I feel like the question approaches medical advice, and I'm a bit uncomfortable with an answer that suggests a treatment that seems outside the mainstream. Perhaps an answer that focuses more on the biology as well as the lack of medical clarity would be best. Dec 24 '20 at 1:43

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