What is a cartilage problem?

There are areas in the knee which act as shock absorbers and these are called menisci. At the end of the long bones at the knee joint there is also cartilage, this is called articular cartilage.

Both the menisci and articular cartilage can be damaged and cause a lot of problems and pain.

What causes a cartilage problem?

Damage to the articular cartilage or menisci is often due to a trauma where you twist your knee and this usually occurs with other knee injuries for example ligament injuries. The knee is commonly injured from skiing, football or rugby.

Your menisci can be torn also without sudden injury and can be due to repeated wear and tear of the meniscal cartilage in an older population. Meniscal cartilage does not heal very well due to having a poor blood supply.

A chondral injury is the term given to damage to the bones at your knee joint.

What are the symptoms of a cartilage problem?

The menisci and articular cartilage don’t have their own nerve supply (which transmits pain) however normally when the cartilage is damaged, surrounding structures are damaged too, causing pain.

  • Pain felt around the knee joint line when moving
  • Knee ‘locking’ if a part of the cartilage affects the movement of the knee
  • Swelling
  • Pain when weight-bearing

How is a cartilage problem diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist can carry out a full subjective and objective examination- often how you injured yourself can suggest what damage you have caused and the objective examination will confirm if you have a cartilage problem and what type of cartilage problem you may have.

An MRI scan can confirm if you have damaged your meniscus or cartilage.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for a cartilage problem?

Your physiotherapist will provide you with a tailored treatment plan following assessment and will choose the most appropriate treatment methods to rehabilitate you based on your symptoms and response to different treatment methods.

Treatment can include:

  • Electrotherapy
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Taping or bracing of the knee
  • Mobilisation
  • Ice/heat treatment
  • Advice and education
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Range of movement exercises
  • Balance exercises
  • Walking aid advice
  • Anti-inflammatory advice
  • Activity modification advice

If your cartilage problem causes troublesome and persistent problems then an operation may necessary. Most operations are done by keyhole surgery (arthroscopic).

If you do require surgery, physiotherapy is essential to ensure you are rehabilitated effectively and you recover as quickly as possible.

Benefit of physiotherapy for a cartilage problem?

Physiotherapy can be very beneficial for a cartilage problem. The particular benefits you feel will be based on your original symptoms and treatment goals.

The benefits of physiotherapy if you have a cartilage problem include:

  • Increased knee strength
  • Lifestyle and sporting education
  • Decreased pain
  • Improved function
  • Increased flexibility
  • Prevention of the injury re-occurring
  • Proper rehabilitation following surgery

If you would like to book an assessment or enquire further, please call 01245 615 051 or e-mail: infofarrellphysiotherapy@gmail.com.