Cartilage does generally break down as we age. It will happen to different degrees in different people. The breakdown of cartilage is one of the causes of arthritis, and most people do develop some sort of arthritis in their old age. Cartilage breaks down as our bodies start making less and less of the main protein that is is made out of.
Although not always the case, osteoarthritis, which is the break down of cartilage, is mostly related to aging. As the body ages, the water content of cartilage increases and the protein makeup decreases so that eventually the cartilage might begin to flake away. Over the years, the repetitive use or “wear and tear,” of worn joints can irritate and inflame the cartilage.
These two images give an idea of what cartilage breakdown looks like inside the body:
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