Cartilage tears of the knee take time to recover. Multiple types of cartilage, ligaments, and bones make up the knee joint. The knee is a very large joint. The cartilage in the knee cushions the knee and prevents the bones from rubbing together. Cartilage supports your knees when you are jumping, running, and even cycling. The cartilage prevents the knees from taking all the pressure. When you tear the cartilage in your knee, the pain is great. Recovery is extensive as well. There are ways to prevent cartilage tears, but if you do happen to tear your cartilage, treatment is possible.
You may be familiar with the meniscus, but there is another type cartilage in the knee. Articular cartilage is not typically talked about, but it is found in the knee. We hear the term meniscus more because it is the meniscus that is usually injured. Articular cartilage covers the ends of the long bones in the knee joint; the patella does not have articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is found on the femur and tibia. It is hard to tear articular cartilage because of its location. The meniscus is divided into two pieces. One piece sits on the inside of the knee, and the other sits on the outside of the knee. The knee requires a lot of cartilage because it is such a large joint. All the cartilage is needed to support the knee.
Any tears in knee cartilage can be debilitating. Meniscus tears are more common than articular cartilage tears, but they happen in the same manner. An injury causes both types of tears in the knee. An abnormal twisting of the knee will rip the cartilage in a horizontal or vertical manner. When it comes to articular cartilage, the cartilage tends to cut away from the bone. Most Articular cartilage injuries may also damage the bone. When the articular cartilage is damaged, it is called a chondral injury.
Symptoms of Knee Pain
Symptoms of meniscus tears and articular tears are the same. You will experience pain and swelling after tweaking the knee. The knee can lock, and it will be nearly impossible to bear weight on it. The outer part of the meniscus is rich in blood but the inner portion of the cartilage is not. Articular cartilage has no nerves or blood vessels in it. When blood vessels are close to the area, tears may heal on their own. Some meniscus tears can heal on its own; it just depends on where the tear is located. Articular tears or chondral injuries required extra treatment. Without a blood supply, these tears will not heal.
Since the symptoms of both meniscus tears and articular tears are the same, it is important to have tests done to confirm which part of the cartilage is torn. Treatment depends on the location of the tear as well as the type of tear. An MRI is the best method for diagnosis. MRIs show the cartilage in the knee. It is an MRI that allows you to see how severe the tear is and if surgery is necessary. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment begins. For most chondral injuries, treatment involves rest, ice, and elevation. It is best to abstain from physical activities. If you continue to engage in activity after the injury, you will only make it worse. Surgery is necessary when the tear is large. If pieces of the cartilage come off and cause the knee to lock, it will have to be removed through surgery. For meniscus tears, you can also recover with ice, rest, and elevation. Certain meniscus tears can heal relatively well without much intervention from a doctor. Other tears require surgery. Just like articular tears, surgery may be needed to repair the meniscus or removed broken pieces of cartilage. After surgery, physical therapy is extremely important.
Avoidance of Knee Pain
There are ways to avoid cartilage tears. One of the best things you can do is stretch before exercising. Sometimes people do not take stretching seriously. Stretching warms up the joints and makes them flexible. During physical activity, it is also important to not overdo it. Putting too much strain on the joints may create a tear. Work out within your limitations. Exercise is good for your knees and keeping those muscles strong will prevent tears in the future. If you tear your cartilage once, you have to be intentional about a complete recovery. Do not attempt to go back to physical activity, especially without proper therapy.
Cartilage tears in the knees are painful and can make recovery difficult. The knees have meniscus and articular cartilage. Both types of cartilage serve the same purpose. Without the cartilage, the bones of your knees would rub together creating a lot of pain. When that cartilage is worn down, knee replacements are necessary. Cartilage tears require treatment and therapy. Any tear in the cartilage makes you susceptible to arthritis in the future. Your knees are important. Try to keep them strong and intact.
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