Whether you experience a pulled muscle, or a medial meniscus tear, there will be pain and discomfort. With a serious knee injury, it is any sports persons worst nightmare, and a cartilage tear is not good news.
What is a knee cartilage tear?
In football a torn cartilage occurs fairly frequently, and accounts for around 12% of all Premiership injuries. The meniscus, the disc of tissue which absorbs shock between the knee, is damaged and will be followed by swelling and pain – of which is less or more depending on the severity of the tear or damage trauma.
There are two menisci in each joint of the knee and are made from tough fibrocartilage. When the knee joint bends the thigh bone rolls, spins and glides over the top surface of the shin bone. If, for any reason, there is a rotation caused by a twist when there is weight bearing down on the joint, the menisci can get jammed and pinched between the two knee bones. If the force is considerable then a tear of the meniscus will occur.
If it us a relatively small tear it may just settle down. If the tear is substantial and large, the flap of torn cartilage will hinder the joint movement and cause the knee point to lock or give way.
Balance Boards may help with rehabilitation.
How can you prevent a knee cartilage tear?
In short – nothing. The only way to ensure a tear does not happen is to always ensure the knee is in perfect position when bearing weight in a semi bent position….which is near impossible. Not guaranteed, it will help having strong quadriceps and hamstring muscles that can deal with strain on the knee may help.
What to do if you have a torn knee cartilage?
Assessment by a chartered physiotherapist or doctor is highly recommended. Surgery may be required for large tears, whilst smaller ones may settle and heal.
If surgery is required, or menisectomy, removal of the torn fibrocartilage is usually desired. A small camera, arthroscope, is used to allow the surgeon to inspect the inside of the knee. A small burning device is then used to trim away the torn cartilage. Time to heal is usually between 4 and 6 weeks, via physiotherapy is normally required – although this will depend on the size of tear, age and fitness of person experiencing the injury.
Knee Braces may help in recovery, but only usually in partnership with a physiotherapy program
ALWAYS seek professional help with any sporting injury.