Articular cartilage in the knee acts as a protective cushion for the bones on either side and reduces friction in the joint. When there is a direct trauma to the knee or when the knee turns or twists beyond the cartilage’s ability to support it, the result is articular cartilage injury, also called a chondral injury.
- Pain with certain activities
- Swelling in knee
- Sensation that the knee is locking, catching or giving way
- Cracking or grating sound in knee when moving
The doctor may recommend activity modification, weight loss, heat and icing the knee.
Anti-inflammatory medication can address symptoms of pain and swelling, but cannot cure the underlying cartilage damage. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may also be beneficial.
A variety of supports such as a brace, sleeve, cane, shoe inserts or other advanced support can help stabilize the knee during walking and movement.
Corticosteroid injections to the affected portion of the knee can provide short-term pain relief and reduced inflammation in the joint, when medication is ineffective or not an option.
Certified Physical Therapists work closely with doctors to create an individualized program to maximize healing and restore function, strength and mobility.
When conservative treatment fails and depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be considered. Most commonly, procedures such as debridement or microfracture are used. The debridement technique shaves and smoothes the damaged cartilage areas. Microfracture is used to promote growth of new cartilage into the damaged area.