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What Are The Symptoms Of Cartilage Damage In The Knee

Symptoms Of Knee Articular Cartilage Damage

Injury clinic | Knee cartilage tear symptoms explained

Cartilage damage may not be painful in and of itself, but symptoms can develop as a result of increased friction between bones. The resulting inflammation and bone damage can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Knee stiffness
  • Locking of the knee joint
  • Aches and pains
  • Cracking, popping and grinding sensations

Articular cartilage tends to be progressive in nature, which means it can worsen over time. This is why receiving a prompt diagnosis and beginning a treatment plan for any of the above symptoms is so important.

Symptoms Of Cartilage Damage

Symptoms of cartilage damage in a joint include:

  • joint pain this may continue even when resting and worsen when you put weight on the joint
  • swelling this may not develop for a few hours or days
  • stiffness
  • a clicking or grinding sensation
  • the joint locking, catching, or giving way

It can sometimes be difficult to tell a cartilage injury apart from other common joint injuries, such as sprains, as the symptoms are similar.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Worn Knee Cartilage

Over time, your body changes and loses strength, flexibility and stability. One of the unmistakable symptoms of this degenerative process can be a worn joint cartilage. This is one of the most common signs of arthritis caused by overexertion which places a strain on your joints, whether during movement or physical activities.

Your knees are one of the most common bones to suffer from this type of degeneration. Therefore you need to pick up on any signs so you can visit your doctor and remedy any aches and pains. In the following OneHowTo article we are going to explain the common symptoms of a worn knee cartilage. Pay attention so you can prevent or improve the condition of your joints by following some good basic habits.

  • Preventing wear and tear on the knees
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    Causes Of Cartilage Damage

    a man playing football, Credits: pixabay

    Direct blow if a joint receives a heavy impact, perhaps during a bad fall or an automobile accident, the cartilage may be damaged. Sportspeople have a higher risk of suffering from articular damage, especially those involved in high impact sports like American football, rugby, and wrestling.

    Wear and tear a joint that experiences a long period of stress can become damaged. Obese individuals are more likely to damage their knee over a 20-year period than a person of normal weight, simply because the body is under a much higher degree of physical stress. Inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints is known as osteoarthritis.

    Lack of movement the joints need to move regularly to remain healthy. Long periods of inactivity or immobility increase the risk of damage to the cartilage

    How Are Articular Cartilage Injuries Treated

    Meniscus Tears

    Several treatments and therapies are available, including nonsurgical and surgical options. The choice of treatment depends on several factors, including age and overall health, physical activity level, desired post-treatment activities, and the type and severity of the articular cartilage injury.

    Nonsurgical Treatment. Nonsurgical treatments are used to relieve symptoms and to prevent or slow further degeneration of cartilage. Nonsurgical treatments can improve quality of life by reducing pain and enhancing strength and mobility, but they cannot repair damaged articular cartilage. They are often used in the initial period following an injury, or when cartilage loss is extensive, as in the case of arthritis.

    • Resting
    • Applying ice to the affected joint for 15 minutes every one or two hours to reduce swelling
    • Elevating the joint to reduce swelling
    • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as acetaminophen, to reduce pain and swelling
    • Avoiding sports and activities that cause pain or involve heavy use of the affected joint
    • Using an unloader brace to unload the cartilage injury
    • Corticosteroid injections, to reduce inflammation and pain
    • Viscosupplementation, a treatment in which a physician injects the affected joint with hyaluronic acid. This lubricates the affected joint, reducing friction between bones in the joint and decreasing pain.

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    Treatment Options For Cartilage Injuries

    • Non-Operative Treatments: For less severe injuries, some combination of non-operative treatment options can be effective to reduce pain and increase mobility. These options may include rest, lifestyle modification and weight loss, anti-inflammatory medication, or physical therapy.
    • Arthroscopy: This surgical procedure can be used to smooth the injured cartilage. Although new cartilage cannot grow to take the place of the injured piece, scar tissue may appear arthroscopy can smooth this out to promote a more natural, pain-free movement of the knee.
    • Transplant: In cases where the cartilage cannot be repaired through arthroscopic surgery, it is possible to transplant some cartilage from an uninjured part of the knee. A similar option would be to remove some normal cartilage cells, reproduce them in a lab, and then later reimplant them into the damaged area so new cartilage will grow.
    • Knee Replacement: If more conservative treatment options are unsuccessful, and the cartilage in severely damaged or worn away, your doctor may talk with you about knee replacement. In this surgical procedure, the injured joint is removed and replaced by a prosthetic joint which can recreate healthy movement of the knee.

    Rothman Orthopaedic Institute1-800-321-9999.

    Gradual Increase In Pain

    Arthritis pain usually starts slowly, although it can appear suddenly in some cases.

    At first, you may notice pain in the morning or after youve been inactive for a while. Your knees may hurt when you climb stairs, stand up from a sitting position, or kneel. It may hurt just to go for a walk.

    You may also feel pain when youre simply sitting down. Knee pain that wakes you up from sleep can be a symptom of OA.

    For people with RA, the symptoms often start in the smaller joints. They are also more likely to be symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body. The joint may be warm and red.

    With OA, symptoms may progress rapidly or they may develop over several years, depending on the individual. They can worsen and then remain stable for a long time, and they can vary by days. Factors that may cause them to worsen include cold weather, stress, and excessive activity.

    With RA, symptoms usually appear over several weeks, but they can develop or worsen in a few days. A flare can happen when disease activity increases. Triggers vary, but they include changes in medication.

    With OA, this can be:

    • hard swelling, due to the formation of bone spurs
    • soft swelling, as inflammation causes extra fluid to collect around the joint

    Swelling may be more noticeable after a long period of inactivity, like when you first wake up in the morning.

    This is because RA is a systemic disease, which means it affects the whole body. OA, meanwhile, only has a direct impact on the affected joint.

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    Causes Of Torn Knee Cartilage

    Torn knee cartilage is often a result of sudden, twisting, forceful movements of the knee joint. The cause of knee cartilage tear is often traumatic like injury while playing, due to fall or an accident. Forceful movements, sudden squatting, kneeling or similar activities too can damage the knee cartilage.

    Sports injuries are the commonest cause of knee cartilage damage or meniscus tear. Those with a history of knee injury or a previously torn knee cartilage may be slightly at an increased risk for further cartilage damage. Certain sports that involve pivoting the knee and forceful jerking knee movements are at greater risk for the tear of knee cartilage.

    Sometimes, repeated stress and strain on the knee joint can lead to damage or tear of the cartilage in certain areas. Osteoarthritis, a common degenerative joint condition, results from wear and tear of the knee joint. Older adults, those with previously injured or operated knee joint and overweight people are more likely to have torn knee cartilage.

    Some other bone and joint conditions too can affect the knee cartilage or make the knee meniscus weak like certain infections affecting the joint or disorders of joint formation.

    What Are The Signs Of An Articular Cartilage Defect

    Knee Cartilage Damage

    In many cases, a patient will experience knee swelling and vague pain. At this point continued activity may not be possible. If a loose body is present, words such as locking or catching might be used to describe the problem. With mechanical degeneration , the patient often experiences stiffness, decreased range of motion, joint pain and/or swelling.

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    What Causes Cartilage Damage

    Cartilage damage can happen in several ways. A direct injury, such as a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury can result in cartilage damage, as can wear and tear from long periods of stress. This breakdown and loss of cartilage is known as osteoarthritis and is common in the knee.

    Long periods of inactivity can also increase the risk of articular cartilage damage, as joints require regular movement to stay healthy.

    Articular Cartilage Damage Conservative Treatments

    While certain cases of knee cartilage damage can improve, many of the underlying causes, especially age-related degeneration, are not reversible. However, a conservative treatment plan combined with healthy lifestyle choices can be highly effective in managing symptoms and improving knee function while you and your doctor monitor the overall progress of the cartilage damage. Most treatment plans should include:

    • Periods of rest
    • Getting regular exercise

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    Preventing Wear And Tear On The Knees

    Knee wear and tear can be diagnosed by a medical examination. If you feel pain, discomfort or any other symptoms, don’t hesitate to go to a professional who can carry out a thorough examination and give an accurate diagnosis. If the pain is unbearable or it is impossible to regenerate cartilage, you can always have a replacement prosthetic knee which can reduce your discomfort and improve your life.

    Once you’ve established a medical diagnosis, it’s time to launch a new lifestyle to help improve your knee’s condition and prevent any further degeneration, whilst always following guidelines and treatment prescribed by your doctor. Try to avoid overexerting it which can accelerate the wear and tear of cartilage. For example, when it comes to walking, go on short walks and always take breaks.

    What’s more, following a healthy and balanced diet to maintain an optimal weight is really important for protecting your knee. You should include foods rich in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium . Remember that your knees support your weight, so by avoiding being overweight, you can prevent progression of the disease. Additionally, you should increase the consumption of products such as cod, vegetables, eggs, gelatine or brewer’s yeast, as well as foods rich in vitamin C if you want to regenerate cartilage.

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    What Is Articular Cartilage

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    Articular cartilage can sometimes be confusing, because there are three different types of cartilage found in the body: articular or hyaline cartilage , fibrocartilage , and elastic cartilage . These different cartilages are distinguished by their structure, elasticity, and strength.

    In some joints, such as the knee, both articular cartilage and fibrocartilage are found functioning side-by-side as distinctly different structures with different functions. When the meniscus is injured, it is sometimes referred to as torn cartilage or torn meniscus. This is different than joint surface articular cartilage problems discussed here.

    Articular cartilage is a complex, living tissue that lines the bony surface of joints. Its function is to provide a low friction surface enabling the joint to withstand weight bearing through the range of motion needed to perform activities of daily living as well as athletic endeavors. Those daily activities include walking, stair climbing and work-related activities. In other words, articular cartilage is a very thin shock absorber. It is organized into five distinct layers, with each layer having structural and biochemical differences.

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    What Are The Best Treatment Options

    Sometimes, when the injury is not severe, your orthopedist may recommend conservative options to manage your pain. These may include:

    • Ice to decrease swelling and pain
    • Avoiding activities that cause pain
    • Anti-inflammatory or pain medications
    • Physical therapy

    When conservative options are not successful or when cartilage damage is severe, MedStar Orthopaedic Institute offers treatment options for restoring your cartilage, including the cartilage restoration surgery.

    If you believe you may be suffering from articular cartilage damage, call to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute. Our doctors have years of experience diagnosing and treating joint conditions and are pleased to offer comprehensive orthopedic care in the Washington, D.C. area.

    What Makes Yale Medicine’s Approach To Articular Cartilage Injuries Unique

    Our experienced providers will assess your condition and help you make an informed decision, says Dr. Allen. Our Sports Medicine surgeons are fellowship-trained and have expertise in meniscus transplant, osteochondral autograft and allograft procedures, and 2nd and 3rd generation cartilage restoration procedures.

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    How Is A Knee Cartilage Injury Diagnosed

    Your consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and examine your knee to check for tenderness, stiffness, swelling and any difficulties with movement. In most cases, they will arrange for you to have an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis of arthritis. They may also arrange for you to have a magnetic resonance imaging scan to show any damage to the soft tissue in your knee.

    When To Consider Knee Surgery For Articular Cartilage Damage

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    Surgery is almost always seen as a last resort treatment option for articular cartilage damage. Knee procedures can include arthroscopic procedures that can clean out the knee joint to reduce wear and tear on the knee and improve function as well as joint replacement procedures in cases where cartilage damage has also resulted in severe joint damage.

    Thanks to advancements in the field, surgeons can perform these procedures using a minimally invasive approach at an outpatient facility. The recovery process varies from patient to patient, but instruction will be given on caring for the surgical site and resuming daily activities.

    The caring team at USA Spine Care can help

    Articular cartilage can seriously disrupt your quality of life, but there are effective treatments that can get you back to the people and activities you love. To learn more about how the highly skilled treatment professionals at USA Spine Care can help you overcome knee dysfunction.

    Contact us today to learn more. Call toll free 1-866-249-1627.

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    Can I Treat A Knee Cartilage Injury Myself

    For the first 48-72 hours think of:

    • Paying the PRICE – Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and
    • Do no HARM – no Heat, Alcohol, Running or Massage.

    Paying the PRICE:

    Avoid HARM for 72 hours after injury. That is, avoid:

    • Heat – for example, hot baths, saunas, heat packs. Heat has the opposite effect to ice on the blood flow. That is, it encourages blood flow. So, heat should be avoided when inflammation is developing. However, after about 72 hours, no further inflammation is likely to develop and heat may then be soothing.
    • Alcoholic drinks, which can increase bleeding and swelling and decrease healing.
    • Running or any other form of exercise which may cause further damage.
    • Massage, which may increase bleeding and swelling. However, as with heat, after about 72 hours, gentle massage may be soothing.

    How Is A Meniscal Tear Diagnosed

    • How you injured your knee and the symptoms you are getting may be enough to tell a doctor that you have a meniscal tear.
    • A doctor or therapist will need to examine your knee. Certain features of the examination may point towards a meniscal tear. They will also want to examine the rest of your leg, including your hip, to check for other injuries or other causes of your symptoms.
    • Cartilage doesn’t show up well on an X-ray so an X-ray of your knee is not usually necessary. The one time you might need to have an X-ray would be if your doctor is concerned that you might have damaged your bone when you injured your knee.
    • The diagnosis of a meniscal tear can be confirmed by a magnetic resonance imaging scan.
    • Computerised tomography scanning is not as good as an MRI for diagnosing a meniscal tear.

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    Torn Cartilage In My Knee

    Knee cartilage tears are often caused by sports injuries, but they can result from any activity involving twisting or bending of the knee. As you age, the everyday forces you put on your knees can wear out the cartilage, leading to a gradual injury that feels sudden you’re fine until one day, you squat or twist and you feel something ripping.

    Because we lose cartilage naturally as we age, knee cartilage tears are more frequent in people over age 30.

    Common causes of cartilage tears include:

    • Climbing stairs or hills
    • Hyper-flexing
    • Playing a contact sport like football or soccer
    • Playing a sport that requires pivoting, such as basketball or golf
    • Squatting
    • Walking on an uneven surface

    Recovery Period For Torn Knee Cartilage

    Knee Pain Meniscus Tear Treatment and Prevention

    As the torn knee cartilage is an avascular structure, the healing is difficult and takes more time. Knee injuries, most commonly are cartilage tears or meniscal tears. In case of minor tears of knee cartilage that need rest, healing period will be about six to eight weeks.

    For torn knee cartilage, requiring surgical repairs for partial removal, complete rest and immobilization is required for at least 2 weeks after surgery. This is followed by rehabilitation with limited motion for the next 2 weeks. With a successful rehabilitation, the next 2 weeks can be devoted to slowly resuming normal activities, however, heavy stress on knee joint, squatting and sports activities may have to be avoided for few months. With good rehabilitation and regular physical therapy exercises for a torn knee cartilage, good recovery can be expected.

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