Cartilage Tears

By Matt Paulus, MS, ATC, Site Coordinator

JOI Explains Cartilage Tears

By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC, Site Coordinator

Cartilage tears are the most common cause of leg pain in active people, both young and old.  There are many causes of cartilage tears, many of which are related to the age of the person and their activity level.

Cartilage, which is a white, gristle-like substance that covers the ends of bones where they come in contact with one another. I have seen this commonly torn in the knee when a person twists the area, resulting in swelling and pain. This injury is usually followed by stiffness that prevents you from completely straightening or bending your knee. In many cases, your knee may feel better with rest, but the symptoms are likely to return with any new physical activity. This type of injury may have a long-term effect on your knee if proper treatment isn’t applied at the time of the injury.  The common complaints are pain and popping in the joint.

In my experience, unlike arthritis pain, which typically develops over many years, the symptoms of a degenerative tear of the cartilage can be quick to develop in a person previously active and pain-free.

Knee Anatomy Lateral View

Lateral Knee Anatomy

Arthroscopic Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery can be used to remove pieces of torn cartilage by making a tiny incision. Viewing the joint with a small fiber-optic instrument with a lighted tip. In some younger people, the cartilage can be sewn back together and removal of the cartilage is avoided. Symptoms of cartilage damage may be pain and tenderness in your knee. Pain especially when bearing weight, locking of the joint, giving way of the knee, and water on the knee, in some cases.  Therefore, it is important to get evaluated for your knee pain right away.

Physical Therapy

As an athletic trainer, I have seen so many injuries to the knee joint.  I know that physical therapy can help these injuries by strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint and by decreasing pain. In the clinical setting, I see so many athletes who injured their knees when they were younger.  The common theme is that they wished they would have taken better care of their knees.  If you suffer from any of these symptoms, you should be evaluated by an orthopedic physician.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. Come see us!

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP Fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904) JOI-2000. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.

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