Are you dealing with knee cartilage injuries? If so, you’re not alone. Increasing age and specific sporting activities increase the risk of cartilage injuries. In cartilage repair studies, knees without any associated injuries are usually included. Cartilage injuries are found in 5–10% of all knee arthroscopies.
This comprehensive guide on diagnosing and treating knee cartilage injuries will help you get a better understanding of what’s going on and how to approach it. You’ll learn about the various types of injuries, their underlying causes, common symptoms, and specialized treatments. We will provide you with practical advice so you can take charge of your health and get on the road to recovery.
What is a knee cartilage injury?
Knee cartilage injuries are painful and difficult to recover from and can cause long-term mobility issues. Knee cartilage injuries involve damage to the articular cartilage, which is the white, elastic tissue that lines the joint surfaces of the knee. This type of injury can involve either a tear in the cartilage or a complete detachment, depending on the severity of the damage.
What are the signs and symptoms of cartilage injury?
A knee cartilage injury is an uncomfortable and difficult injury to deal with. Some of the common signs and symptoms of a knee cartilage injury include:
- Pain in the knee joint. This can be felt when walking, jumping, or pivoting.
- The knee can become stiff and difficult to move, leading to a decreased range of motion.
- Swelling around the knee can be a sign of a cartilage injury.
- The knee may feel unstable or weak, leading to a risk of a fall or injury.
- Difficulty to straighten the knee, resulting in a bent knee “lock”.
How do you diagnose a knee injury?
The first step in diagnosing a knee injury is to visit a medical provider who will take a detailed history and perform a physical exam. During the physical exam, the provider may examine range of motion, deformity, and pain around the knee joint area. Imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, may also be used to help diagnose a knee injury.
The provider may also recommend laboratory tests to rule out infections. Once a diagnosis has been established, the medical provider will determine the best course of treatment. Treatment may include rest and protection of the knee, stretching and strengthening exercises, physical therapy, or surgery. An accurate diagnosis is key to helping you properly care for your knee injury.
What are the treatment options for cartilage damage?
There are a variety of treatments available for knee cartilage injuries, ranging from nonsurgical to surgical procedures. Learn each of these options:
For mild cartilage injuries, non-surgical treatments are often recommended first. These treatments include rest, icing, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes like losing weight or avoiding certain activities. Pain-relieving medications or steroid injections may also be prescribed for more serious injuries.
If non-surgical treatments fail, surgery may be necessary. Common surgical treatments for cartilage injuries include microfracture, arthroscopy, and osteochondral autograft.
Microfracture is a minimally invasive procedure designed to repair the cartilage and stimulate the growth of new cartilage. During the procedure, tiny holes are made in the bone near the damaged cartilage, allowing fluid and blood to escape and creating a healing response.
Arthroscopy is a procedure normally used to diagnose cartilage injuries. To repair the injury, a thin, lighted instrument called an arthroscope is inserted into the knee and then guided to the injury. Once the injury is identified, the surgeon can remove or repair the damaged cartilage.
Osteochondral autograft is a procedure used to replace damaged cartilage. For the procedure, a section of healthy cartilage and bone is cut from a non-weight-bearing area and transplanted onto the damaged cartilage. Once it is in place, it will eventually integrate into the surrounding cartilage and bone.
Tips on how to care for your knee while it is healing
There are many relevant rehabilitation programs that can help you recover faster after a knee injury. Keep reading to learn tips on how to care for your knee while it is healing.
Applying cold compresses to the affected area can help reduce swelling and pain. Make sure to allow your knee to rest and elevate it when possible. This will help reduce swelling and discomfort.
Once your doctor has approved exercise as part of your rehab plan, begin by gently moving your knee. You may also be advised to use machines such as treadmills or stair climbers to strengthen your knee. To promote healing, aim to exercise your knee a few times a week.
Physical therapy sessions are designed to help reduce inflammation, improve range of motion, and increase strength. You will likely be instructed to perform certain exercises prescribed by your physical therapist. It is important that these exercises are done correctly and consistently.
If necessary, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to help reduce swelling and pain. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking the medication.
What are the best ways to prevent knee cartilage injuries?
Knee cartilage injuries are a source of pain and discomfort that can significantly affect quality of life. Whether due to an acute incident or overuse, these injuries can be difficult to overcome and may even require medical intervention for relief. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent knee cartilage injuries from occurring in the first place.
Knee Cartilage Injury (2)
- Understanding knee cartilage injuries: Knee cartilage injuries are caused by excessive stress on the knee joint, which can cause wear and tear of the cartilage. These injuries can be debilitating and prevent people from leading an active lifestyle.
- Warm up before activity: It’s important to begin any physical activity with a proper warm-up period. This is especially true when it comes to activities that involve your lower body, like running, jumping, or playing sports. Spend a few minutes doing some light stretching and dynamic exercises before you begin your workout to reduce the risk of a cartilage injury.
- Controlling risk factors: One of the best ways to prevent knee cartilage injuries is to reduce the risk factors associated with them. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding high-impact activities, and wearing supportive knee braces. Exercises like swimming and biking can also help keep the knee joint healthy.
- Investing in quality footwear: Investing in quality, supportive shoes can also help reduce the risk of knee cartilage injuries. Shoes specifically designed for athletes with high arches and strong cushioning can help provide extra protection for the knee joint.
- Strengthening the muscles: Strengthening the muscles around the knee can help reduce the risk of cartilage injuries. Strengthening exercises like squats and leg presses can help improve the stability of the knee joint. It is also important to stretch these muscles regularly to reduce tightness.
- Lift properly: If you regularly lift weights or engage in strength training, proper form is essential. Be sure to keep your knee slightly bent when lifting, and always engage your core for extra stability. Proper technique prevents unnecessary strain on the cartilage and joints and helps reduce the risk of injury.
- Seeking medical advice: If you are experiencing knee pain or if you’ve recently had an injury, it’s important to seek medical advice from your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can be essential in preventing long-term damage to the knee joint.
Treating knee cartilage injuries with Orthopaedic Surgery Associates
If you’re looking for authoritative and comprehensive advice on diagnosing and treating knee cartilage injuries, the Orthopaedic Surgery Associates guide is exactly what you need. Our specialized team of orthopaedic surgeons offers a wide range of innovative treatments for knee cartilage injuries and sports Medicine in Boca Raton.
Knee Cartilage Injury (3)
Discover the answers to your questions about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for knee cartilage injuries with Orthopaedic Surgery Associates today! Visit one of our locations near you:
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.