A torn knee cartilage, is a common name given to a torn Meniscus. The Meniscii – one on the inside and one on the outside of the knee, sit on top of the shin bone (Tibia). They provide a cushion between the Thigh bone and the Shin bone. The cartilage on the inside, is the most commonly injured, owing to the rotation forces exerted through it with knee activity, hence a tear is often brought about when the knee is under load, flexed and rotated, eg ; when pivoting on one leg. An additional injury may also occur to the ligament on the inside of the knee (Medial Colateral Ligament) and the ligament that holds the front edge of the meniscus to the shin bone (Tibia), the Coronary Ligament.
Signs and Symptoms are;
The joint giving way – Swelling – Pain – Inability to straighten the joint.
The knee shall usually swell in addition to being painful, but may settle down and normal movements can restart. If the knee becomes repeatedly troublesome, then a more significant tear is likely and surgery would be contemplated.
This is done under Arthroscopy, where the Orthopaedic surgeon can remove the damaged tissue and repair the area, accessing the joint through a small incision. Care is taken to remove only as much of the meniscus as necessary, as the structure shall not re-grow, therefore increasing the possibilty of developing Osteoarthritis.
Following surgery, Physiotherapy can begin, helping to reduce knee pain and swelling, by using ice packs. This can also be done at home, providing that care is taken with the application of the ice. At times a knee brace can be helpful in giving confidence with initial weight bearing work, but this is not always necessary.
Your Physiotherapist would take you through a series of ‘ Non Weight Bearing ‘ (including water based activities) progressing on, to weight bearing work, as the joint pain and swelling allows, to increase the strength and stability of the joint. This is particularly important in reducing the likelihood of re- injury, when the knee remains ‘loose’. Work is also done on the other muscles around the thigh, such as the Hamstrings and Abductors.