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A torn cartilage is a common sporting injury. The knee joint bends and as it does the thigh bone moves over the top of the shin bone. The cartilage that cushions these two bones at the knee joint can tear. This cartilage consists of two shock-absorbing discs. They are crescent-shaped and are located on the outside and inside edges of the knee between the femur or thigh bone and the tibia or shin bone. These discs are known as menisci. The medial meniscus is on the inside of the knee and the lateral meniscus is on the outside.
A meniscal injury is very common. There are a variety of ways in which the meniscus can tear, resulting in knee pain and soreness. If the medial meniscus is torn, the medial collateral ligament may also be damaged as the two are attached. The lateral meniscus is not attached to a ligament, however, and so if it is torn there is no risk of any other cartilage or ligament also being damaged. The injury is very painful and can cause the knee to feel unstable, even when the swelling has subsided. Many sufferers find that wearing a knee support allows them to continue playing sport once their injury has healed.
Symptoms include knee pain along the inside or outside of the knee joint, depending on which meniscal has been damaged. The knee joint may appear to click, catch or even lock. There may be some swelling and the knee may feel unstable or even give way. Sometimes, after the knee pain and swelling has subsided, the injury settles down without causing further problems. However, if the tear in the knee cartilage causes the knee to lock or give way, surgery is often required. This usually involves the removal of as little of the damaged meniscus as possible in order to minimise the likelihood of arthritis developing in the knee joint.
Meniscal injuries are usually caused when the knee is rotated sharply or twisted whilst the foot is planted on the ground and does not swivel with the knee. This type of injury often occurs during sporting activities such as football.
In older people, a meniscal injury can be caused by general wear and tear. As we age, the menisci become worn and may tear easily.
If you are unlucky enough to suffer from a torn cartilage in the knee, there are a number of steps you can take. Initially, apply an ice pack to the injured area to help the swelling subside. Wearing a knee support will help to stabilize the knee. A knee support can give the wearer increased confidence that the knee will not give way, which is particularly important if they wish to resume their sporting activities.
Unfortunately, these injuries are very difficult to guard against with 100 per cent success.
Some people feel more secure if they wear a knee support, particularly if they have previously injured their knee. Keeping the muscles around the knee strong will also help. Strengthening the quadriceps and hamstring muscles in order to protect the knee joint is the most effective action you can take to avoid developing knee pain through this injury.