Knee Injuries Involving Cartilage

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Knee injury is already commonly encountered nowadays, especially among the sportsmen or the athletes who play football, soccer, and netball. This involves injury to various structure of the knee such as the tendons, ligaments, kneecap, and the cartilages. Most of these injuries are self-limiting. This means that it heals on its own and its presenting symptoms just go away without further medical intervention.

However, there are times that these symptoms go back fluently and are present already for an extended period of time. This time around it needs medical intervention. Cartilage is by far one of the most commonly injured parts of the knee. It is also called as articular cartilage. It is a white, smooth, fibrous connective tissue that covers the ends of bones and protects the bones as the joint moves, made up of the protein collagen, which lies on a bone’s articulating surfaces. It functions to allow for the smooth interaction between two bones in a joint.

Injury to the knee cartilage is often caused by trauma, a direct forceful blow to the knee.  Injury to the articular cartilage will lead to inflammation and pain in the knee joint. If the injury is severe, it may also lead to bone fractures. The most commonly knee injuries of the cartilage includes the following:

-          Chondromalacia. It is the softening of the kneecap, which is caused by trauma from injury, exhaustion or overuse of the cartilage, muscle weakness, and if there is a misalignment of the structures of the knee. It can also occur if a blow to the kneecap tears off a piece of cartilage from the articular cartilage itself.

 -          Osteochondral Fracture. It is a tear of the cartilage which covers the end of a bone, within a joint. Usually it affects the knee joint, and sometimes associated with ACL tears. Osteochondral fractures of the ankle are also common.

-          Osteochondritis Dissecans. It is a knee injury which is common in adolescents. It can also occasionally affect other joints, such as the elbow and ankle. It is caused by the separation of a fragment of cartilage from the joint surface. This occurs due to a disruption to the blood flow.

-          Meniscus Tear. It usually occurs when the knee joint is bent and the knee is then twisted. Pain and swelling are by far the most common complaints of individuals who encountered tear of the meniscus. It is accompanied by inability to fully straighten the leg, tenderness of the affected limb, and a popping or clicking sound within the knee.

Treatment of knee cartilage injuries depends on the findings of the diagnostic procedures. Some injuries of the knee cartilage just heal by its own, however, if the presenting symptoms persists, it may necessitate medical attention. The goal of any intervention would be the formation of a durable repair tissue providing symptomatic relief, allowing high physical activity and delaying the option of replacement surgery.

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