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I've had problems with my knees since 7th grade, and I had to quit basketball because of it. Right now I do karate, as I have for the past 5 years. But my knees are acting up again, so I went to the doc today and had some x rays done. She said my cartilage was deteriorating, and that if I didn't do physical therapy, I'd have to have surgery. She said that I had to strengthen the muscles to hold the cartilage in place, or something like that.
But the thing is, I'm only 18 years old! How could my cartilage have deteriorated that fast? What can I do to help it? Are there any supplements I can take? Anything? I can't quit karate, and it looks like I may have to if these knees don't heal. If it helps, I'm a vegetarian... have been completely since 9th grade, though I was on and off my entire life. My mom never would buy me any supplements 'til about a year ago, so I may not have been getting enough protein, iron, or calcium.
Another thing... my worst knee is my left, which I guess means that it's partly because of karate, since that's my kicking leg. In fact, my entire left side is a jumble of damaged cartilage. My left elbow, left wrist, left knee, and left ankle. I use them more in sparring, but sparring is extremely light contact, so how on earth did they get this damaged?

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I feel your pain. I've had knee and back problems since about the same age as you but it was unrelated to cartilage. I'm 21 and this year I found out I had bad cartilage in both elbows and both knees. It was my own fault and I don't really like talking about it because I was being real stupid, but anyway, I can barely walk and can't throw anything or really use my arms in more than trivial tasks without getting sore. I hope you're not as bad off and that makes you feel better. I know when people ask me what's wrong and I say bad cartilage they give me this look and say something like "that sucks" and I think it's rude, but I don't really care. About a month before the cartilage thing I had an epiphany and a change in world view, I used to be really selfish and negative, but anyway, that's pretty complicated, but what I think is important to say is I started exercising and meditating and quit abusing substances and even quit cigarettes in 2 days, coming from smoking 2 packs a day, and after 2 days of exercising and meditating I didn't even want to smoke at all after 2 days, I just felt so good, but anyway, even though I can't exercise anymore meditation REALLY helps. I'm still a lot happier than I used to be, even though I can't use my body that much. I just wanna say that if you get bummed out because you can't exercise, meditation can be really helpful in relieving stress and finding inner peace, it was really amazing the first time I did it successfully, and you don't need to take a class or listen to someone how they say to do it, you just find a peaceful place, my personal favorite is a forest or anywhere outdoors with wind and chirping birds and stuff, and you just lay down, close your eyes, and you can think about anything you want, I usually think about perception and existence and what the things I'm feeling mean, or how they are significant, but you don't have to think of "a candle" or something someone else tells you to think of, maybe what I think of might help, but anyway, you just close your eyes, and focus on what you feel/hear and think about whatever you want and don't open your eyes until you feel a lot better, I usually know when it's time to open my eyes. Despite what some Bob Marley types think about doing drugs, real buddhists don't do drugs, and drugs definitely interfere with meditation, but it still can be worth doing, it helped me quit drugs when I still had them in my system, but it's a lot easier and better now that I don't do drugs anymore. Whatever you do, don't descend into addiction of any kind. That leads absolutely nowhere and will make your life hell. Sorry to write so much but I do feel your pain, and I actually am not sad at all about my condition, I never really even think about it that much, I never complain about it ever, and thanks to meditation this is actually the best year of my life. I hope you don't let your condition ruin you, because not being able to excercise is not that big of a deal, unless you make it a big deal.
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take glucosamine and chondroitin supplement. it strengthens joints and cartilage. you have to take it 4 times a day but it works really well. you can get it at any place that sells supplements
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i was only 16 when it started deteriorating. i feel for you because now i am just 22 and am starting to have hip problems and my other knee has gone bad from trying to support with my good knee.
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I have similar knee problems with cartilage deterioration in both knee caps. I have had microfracture surgery and arthroscopic chondroplasty surgery at the age of 14. I formerly played football, baseball, and basketball, but was forced to stop basketball. I hope to continue the others.  Good luck, if you wish to get in contact with me, reply below. Thank you

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Did you have depression before diagnosed with this? I have the same problems with my cartilage.
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What caused your cartilage problems?
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