There are two kinds of cartilage present in your knee, articular cartilage and meniscus cartilage. Articular cartilage is the material that covers the ends of the bones where they contact to become the knee joint. Menisci are the “pads” that lie between the bones and act as cushions to help absorb the contact forces that occur with weight-bearing.
Both types of cartilage are very durable and create a padded but smooth surface during activities such as walking, running and jumping.
Many factors can contribute to cartilage damage/injuries including age related degeneration of cartilage, excessive weight, repetitive or acute injuries. During normal activities of life the cartilage is exposed to extreme pressure. This pressure is increased significantly during activities such as running and jumping. Injuries can occur from this repetitive stress or from a single traumatic event. The cartilage surface can be sheared off the end of the bone exposing the underlying bony surface or the meniscus can be torn. Unlike other tissues in our body, injured cartilage and most meniscal tears do not have the ability to heal and lead to symptoms until treatment is administered.
The onset of symptoms can occur suddenly or come on very slowly. The symptoms of cartilage injuries include pain with weight-bearing, catching or locking, giving way or buckling, and swelling.
Cartilage lesions left untreated may by themselves cause pain and loss of function. Further, they may progress and lead to early degenerative arthritis. Once full blown arthritis is present, symptoms become worse and are often debilitating.
If you believe that you may have a cartilage injury, it would be best to come in for an evaluation. Please contact my office for an appointment.