Knee Injuries — Cartilage Tears
Cartilage injuries in the knees, also known as meniscal tears, are common both in sports and in daily activities. The meniscus are two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage located in the knee between the two large bones of the leg, the femur and tibia. They function as a shock absorber for the joint and allow the two bones to move pain free within the knee. However, if the joint is twisted, as is common in pivot sports, the cartilage can tear and even get caught in the joint, restricting mobility and resulting in a “locked joint.”
When to seek medical treatment
Dr. E. L., orthopedic trauma surgeon at The University Hospital, explains that “some patients will hear a loud pop or crack when cartilage tears or ligaments rupture. Seek medical treatment for any injury that causes a ripping or tearing sensation in the joint.”
Other signs to watch for include immediate swelling, which suggests bleeding into the joint, restricted motion and an inability to bear weight on the leg. If these signs are present, Dr. L recommends the injury be assessed by a doctor.
In many situations, cartilage tears may heal slowly because of the poor blood supply to the injured area.The knee of a patient is prepared with iodine for an arthroscopic exam. In injuries where pain or locking joints persist, arthroscopic surgery is often needed to solve the problem. The arthroscope is an instrument the size of a pen with a telescope at one end and a fiber optic light at the other. It allows physicians to examine and often repair injured joints through two small incisions. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis and offers many benefits over traditional surgery. The recovery time is shortened to about three weeks, infection is minimal and because the incisions are small, there is less scarring. The benefits of arthroscopic surgery are maximized by aggressive physical therapy to return the joint to normal activity.
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