© 2018 OA Knee Pain. All Rights Reserved.

A torn cartilage injury, also referred to as a meniscus tear injury, is one of the most common knee injuries amongst those aged over 65 and athletes who play contact sports, like football and rugby, or those that involve jumping, such as basketball.

The meniscus is part of the cartilage system in the knee that cushions the joint and keeps it stable. Damage to this area of the knee can be caused by trauma or a sudden twist or turn of the knee. Overuse and ageing have also been known to cause cartilage tears and is called degenerative meniscal tearing.

Torn Cartilage Injury - Meniscus Tear - OA Knee Pain Diagram depicting a healthy knee joint and one with a torn meniscus

Symptoms of torn cartilage

Like other knee injuries, there might be a “popping” sound accompanying the injury; however, pain, swelling and stiffness might not be apparent immediately. In some cases, a meniscal tear might not cause any symptoms or problems at all.

Preventing injury

It is difficult to completely prevent torn cartilage injuries as many occur as a result of unforeseen accidents. However, there is a number of things you can do to reduce the impact of degraded cartilage in the future. This includes:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Keeping your knees flexible
  • Building up muscles in your legs

To prevent injuries to your knee while staying active, it is important that you sufficiently warm up and cool down. When returning to exercise, take it easy, give yourself more breaks and allow yourself to slowly build back up to the level you were at before.

Treatment

If you suspect a knee injury, you should book an appointment with your GP as they can carry out a physical examination of your knee by assessing its range of motion and stability. They are likely to distinguish a meniscal tear from this, but a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can confirm a diagnosis.

The treatment you will be prescribed depends on the location and size of the tear. Other factors including age, level of activity and any related injuries are also taken into consideration.

If you have a small tear on the outer part of the meniscus, these injuries can often heal naturally by themselves while deeper cuts may require surgery. For injuries that don’t require an operation, the RICE protocol can be followed. The acronym stands for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
Torn Cartilage injury - Knee Cartilage - OA Knee Pain Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

A brace can be used to protect your knee during the healing process, while rest alleviates pain and balances out pressure. Ice and compression can be used to reduce and maintain swelling while elevating your knee above your heart level can prevent blood loss to the knee.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) can also help with reducing pain and swelling while a physiotherapist can suggest stretches and exercises to help strengthen and support the knee.

For large tears or where there is real instability in the knee, surgery may be the only treatment option suitable to repair the knee. Arthroscopy is the most common form of surgery - for more information on this type of surgery, click here. Microfracture surgery may also be an option. This involves making holes on the surface of the bone to stimulate new cartilage growth.

Following surgery, your knee will be put in a cast or brace, meaning you might need crutches to help keep pressure off the affected knee.

How long will it take to recover?

Recovery time depends on the treatment route that has been taken. For non-surgical solutions, pain and swelling in the knee can often subside after a couple of days. If there was any instability in the joint, recovery time will be longer as you will be advised to maintain a healthy weight and participate in activities such as swimming as this doesn’t place as much pressure on the knees as other activities and is good for strengthening the joint.

For surgical solutions, recovery can take anything from six to three months, depending on which procedure is done. It is important that you listen to your physiotherapist as they will have designed an exercise programme to help your recovery.

How would you rate the information on this page? (Your feedback is greatly appreciated)

Sign up to the OA Knee Pain newsletter

OA Knee Pain Social Board

Bringing you the latest news, research and treatment breakthroughs from the world of osteoarthritis

Visit our blog

Filter
  • twitter
  • blog
#

Can bracing be used instead of surgery following an ACL injury?


For anyone interested in the sports or activities which help us to keep fit and healthy the potential for injury is always present. Injuries will very often involve the knee joint. This is because the knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in our body.

#

The top 10 foods experts say can help manage osteoarthritis


New foods are also appearing all the time, and not all of these have been thoroughly tested for beneficial properties, so it is also quite possible to find a food that may help you personally. Whether you do or do not believe that specific foodstuffs can alleviate osteoarthritis, it certainly appears that a healthy balanced diet and the maintenance of a reasonable body weight can help those with arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition, so it makes sense to focus on those foods that can fight inflammation.

#

What are the health benefits of spices?


There are many foods that can benefit your health, but we don’t often think of the herb and spice cupboard as holding anything particularly special. It turns out, however, that there are many excellent ingredients in spices that can not only benefit our health but also improve ailments and reduce symptoms of other health problems. Read on to discover more about the health benefits of spices. There are many spices that we can use in cooking and they all have their own special properties. From ginger to turmeric and paprika to cinnamon, every spice has its own distinct aroma, taste and health-giving properties.

#

What are the top low impact sports for people with bad joints?


Bad joints can get in the way of achieving a good exercise routine, due to the pain and discomfort of weight bearing exercise. When we exercise by playing sports or running, there is a large amount of stress placed on the joints, especially the knees. This leads to pain and can actually cause long-term damage to the joints. However, there are a few excellent low impact sports which are ideal for people with bad joints. Read on to discover which exercises can provide a great workout for people experiencing problems with their joints.

#

​5 most important questions to ask your doctor about OA


We all experience aches and pains from time to time. Normally this isn’t a problem. However, when pains become regular they become a cause of concern. Recurring pain or discomfort in the joints may be indications of the onset of osteoarthritis – a condition which, as we age, gradually damages the surfaces of the joints so the joint doesn’t move as smoothly.

#

​What to expect following knee replacement surgery


There are broadly two different types of knee replacement surgery. These are known as partial (sometimes called unilateral) knee replacement, and total or full knee replacement. You may also hear knee replacement being referred to as arthroplasty. Your surgeon will decide which option is best for you depending upon the state of your knee. Partial knee replacement is less invasive and involves less downtime, so if this is a possibility for you, your surgeon will always prefer to choose this option. However, partial knee replacements run a greater risk of the need for revision surgery, so your surgeon will carefully weigh this risk against the short-term benefits.

#

Treatments for Osteoarthtitis


It has been estimated that the number of people in the UK with osteoarthritis is around 8.75 million with almost half that figure suffering from knee OA. This means that a third of the population aged 45 and older have sought treatment for their condition.

#

What are the long term effects of pharmaceuticals in managing osteoarthritis?


​Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects your joints. It is caused by everyday wear and tear rather than any specific immune condition, but it is still painful and can be debilitating. It is caused when the cartilage that covers and protects the ends of your bones, where they join, becomes roughened and thickened. The bone underneath the cartilage also thickens, as do the ligaments, the synovium (the inner layer of the joint capsule) and the capsule itself. Sometimes extra synovial fluid is produced, which causes the joint to swell.