What is a knee cartilage injury?
The cartilage inside the knee joint is known as the menisci. There are two within the knee joint, one on the inside (medial meniscus) and one on the outside (lateral meniscus). Their role is to act as shock absorbers and the improve the smoothness of how the knee joint moves. The cartilage in the knee joint can be torn or pinched.
Meniscal injuries are commonly sporting injuries due to a sudden forceful twisting injury. Meniscal injuries can also be caused by wear and tear causing small pieces of cartilage to break off and float around in the joint.
What are the symptoms of a knee cartilage injury?
The main symptoms are:
- Pain, especially when trying to straighten the knee, weight bear or twist on the knee in weight bearing
- Redness and heat of the knee
- Decreased range of knee movement
- Grinding or clicking
- Locking may also occur where you physically cannot bend or straighten the knee
Diagnosis of knee cartilage injuries
A thorough subjective and objective assessment will be carried out by your physiotherapist to ascertain the exact cause of your symptoms. The objective assessment will be tailored to the findings from questioning and from this an individualised treatment program will be set up.
There are many different causes of knee pain due to the complexity of the joint with many different structures that can be injured. Occasionally several structures can involved at the same time especially with sporting injuries. Therefore due to the complexity of the knee joint and symptoms a thorough physiotherapy assessment is required. Here at AMS we pride ourselves in carrying out thorough, appropriate assessments to rule out other causes of pain in this region and your therapist will carry out specific tests to differentiate where the pain is coming from.
Physiotherapy treatment for knee cartilage injuries
The mensici generally have poor blood supply with some areas having better blood supply than others. Therefore depending on the type, size and location of the tear some meniscal injuries have the potential to heal and respond well to physiotherapy treatment. Other tears however do not necessarily respond as well to conservative treatment and may require surgical intervention. However physiotherapy is still appropriate in these cases to help reduce pain and enable self management to improve muscle strength and stability around the knee.
Physiotherapy treatment will be tailored to your needs but may involve the following:
- Advice and education
- Joint mobilisations
- Soft tissue mobilisations
- Tailored home exercise program of stability, proprioception, range of motion and flexibility exercises
- Taping and bracing
When to see help from a physiotherapist
If you have had a sudden twisting injury with immediate pain, swelling and an inability to weight bear you should follow Rest, Ice, Elevation, Compression(RICE) for 48 hours. If the pain worsens and you are unable to weight bear you should seek medical advice. If the pain and swelling appears to improve slightly over the 48 hours you should then seek physiotherapy advice to improve swelling, pain and range of motion. If you have a more gradual build up of pain and are finding it increasingly difficult to walk, play sport and twist on your knee you should seek physiotherapy help as soon as possible.