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Cartilage deteriorates throughout life, resulting in the splitting and flaking of the articular surface. This limited cartilage loss occurs mainly away from the loadbearing regions of the joint, and is ascribed to "wear and tear". While these changes resemble osteoarthritis they rarely cause symptoms and progress only slowly.
Rapidly progressive cartilage destruction is always maximal in the major load bearing area and is usually associated with symptoms of osteoarthritis.