• Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Rehabilitation

Knee Meniscal (Cartilage) Injuries

The menisci (cartilage) are C-shaped structures that lie between the upper thigh bone and lower shin bone within the knee joint which act as shock-absorbers between the surfaces of the two bones.

Cartilage injuries are very common and can happen to people of all ages, from children to the elderly. They often happen during sporting activities when a patient’s feet are planted and they twist their body over their knee. But menisci can be torn in a vast variety of other ways, often while carrying out everyday tasks, such as gardening or crouching down to change a baby on the floor or to get something out of a low cupboard.

Symptoms

Sudden severe pain in the knee at the time of injury, followed by swelling.

On-going symptoms can seesaw between being very good and very bad as the small fragments of cartilage drift in and out of the joint causing intermittent pain.

Investigation

Often signs of meniscal (cartilage) tears will be picked up on simple clinical examination. If the cause is either more complex or there is any doubt, then an MRI scan can be quickly performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Knee Meniscal (Cartilage) Injuries

As menisci (cartilage) do not have a very good blood supply, the majority of meniscal tears will not heal without some form of intervention.

One of the most common forms of treatment for meniscal (cartilage) tears is arthroscopic or keyhole surgery. This is usually performed as a day-case procedure under a short general anaesthetic. Two one-centimetre incisions are made at the front of the knee through which the torn part of meniscus can be repaired.

Following surgery, the patient will wear a bandage for 24-48 hours and use crutches for anywhere between one day and one week.

If symptoms are only moderate, then certainly lifestyle adaptation, weight-loss and conservative treatment with physiotherapy may help to relieve the symptoms to an extent that makes the patient more comfortable.

Knee Meniscal (Cartilage) Injuries

End stage rehabilitation exercises involve activity or sport related strengthening program and can be home or gym based programs.