Cartilage in your knee is also known as the meniscus. It acts as a shock absorber between your thighbone and shin bone (femur and tibia). Each of your knees has two menisci. They can be found on the inner and outer sides of the knee and have a crescent shape.
When the meniscus is damaged it can put a lot of strain on your knee and cause the joint surface cartilage to wear. A torn meniscus can also lead to instability or pain.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is possible that you will not be affected by a small tear in the cartilage. Symptoms can die down after a while but if they persist for more than a few weeks then surgery is an option. Larger tears that cause the knee to lock will require assessment and possibly surgery straight away.
A knee arthroscopy is the procedure that is usually carried out to treat cartilage tears. This is also known as key-hole surgery. There are two main procedures depending on the issue. Sometimes it is possible to repair a tear but if this is not possible the torn meniscus will need to be trimmed to create a smooth edge. This is called a partial meniscectomy.
In a partial meniscectomy surgical instruments are inserted through a small incision along with an arthroscope. The surgeon will try and remove as little as necessary so that a smooth edge of the remaining cartilage can still act as a shock absorber.
If a tear is in the outer part of the meniscus it can be repaired with special sutures or anchors. A meniscal repair is usually only recommended in younger age groups. This is because as we age the meniscus gets weaker and more prone to wear and tear. The chance of a tear healing is therefore reduced significantly. The cut off age for the procedure is usually around 45.
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