Signs of Torn Cartilage in the Knee
The knee joint is prone to injury, especially if you participate in activities in which you frequently start and stop, jump, run, change directions or twist. Cartilage covers the ends of the bones in your knee, and the pieces of cartilage between the bones are called meniscus. The cartilage cushions your joint as you move and prevents bones from rubbing together. Cartilage in your knee can tear if you suffer a direct blow or other trauma or if you forcefully twist your knee while playing. With age, cartilage wears away and can tear during everyday activities. If you notice signs or symptoms of a tear, see your physician for treatment so your injury does not become worse.
If your cartilage tears because of a blow to the knee or a sudden twist, you might hear a popping sound in your knee joint. Torn knee cartilage usually produces pain in the inner or outer part of the knee, not in the kneecap area. You might experience sharp pains and feel as if your knee is weak and unable to support you. Your knee joint may also catch or lock as you move. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that if the tear is not severe, you may initially be able to keep playing or walking on it.
- If your cartilage tears because of a blow to the knee or a sudden twist, you might hear a popping sound in your knee joint.
- The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that if the tear is not severe, you may initially be able to keep playing or walking on it.
How to Tell if You Have a Bruised MCL
According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, torn cartilage in your knee can also cause the area to swell. This can happen right after the injury, usually within one to two hours, or it can take a day or two to appear. Your knee may also become stiff and you may find it is hard to bend or straighten. If you do not take steps to treat the injury, with time the swelling and stiffness can get progressively worse. If the tear is minor, it may heal on its own within a few weeks. In many cases, however, surgery is required.
- According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, torn cartilage in your knee can also cause the area to swell.
If a knee tear is severe enough, your knee may temporarily lock in a certain position. Pieces of the cartilage can also break off and lodge in your joint, restricting movement. If the injury is not treated, your symptoms will return every time you are active. With time, you may have constant symptoms, even during routine daily activities. As the range of motion in your knee worsens, the surrounding muscles may become tight and weak, creating additional pain and stiffness. Some knees can remain locked for days at a time.
- If a knee tear is severe enough, your knee may temporarily lock in a certain position.
- As the range of motion in your knee worsens, the surrounding muscles may become tight and weak, creating additional pain and stiffness.
How to Tell if You Have a Bruised MCL
How Long Does it Take to Rehabilitate a Snapped Achilles Tendon?
What Causes Pain to the Back of Your Ankle & Heel When You Walk?
Flank Pain From a Stretching Tear or Pulled Muscle
Ligament Tear & Knee Hyperextension
Signs & Symptoms of a Hyperextended Knee
Signs of a Bone Spur in Elbow
Physical Therapy Exercises for a Hyperextended Toe
Elbow Is Snapping During Exercise
How Long Until a Chipped Bone on the Knee From Playing Football Heals?
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Meniscal Tears
- Hospital for Special Surgery: What is a Cartilage Injury
- University of Washington School of Medicine: Torn Meniscus
- Lespasio MJ, Piuzzi NS, Husni ME, Muschler GF, Guarino A, Mont MA. Knee Osteoarthritis: A Primer. Perm J. 2017;21:16-183. doi:10.7812/TPP/16-183
- Kiapour AM, Murray MM. Basic science of anterior cruciate ligament injury and repair. Bone Joint Res. 2014;3(2):20-31. doi:10.1302/2046-3758.32.2000241
- Doral MN, Bilge O, Huri G, Turhan E, Verdonk R. Modern treatment of meniscal tears. EFORT Open Rev. 2018;3(5):260-268. doi:10.1302/2058-5241.3.170067
- Reinking MF. CURRENT CONCEPTS IN THE TREATMENT OF PATELLAR TENDINOPATHY. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2016;11(6):854-866.
- Petersen W, Rembitzki I, Liebau C. Patellofemoral pain in athletes. Open Access J Sports Med. 2017;8:143-154. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S133406
- Frush TJ, Noyes FR. Baker's Cyst: Diagnostic and Surgical Considerations. Sports Health. 2015;7(4):359-65. doi:10.1177/1941738113520130
- Huang YC, Yeh WL. Endoscopic treatment of prepatellar bursitis. Int Orthop. 2011;35(3):355-8. doi:10.1007/s00264-010-1033-5
- Beals C, Flanigan D. A Review of Treatments for Iliotibial Band Syndrome in the Athletic Population. J Sports Med (Hindawi Publ Corp). 2013;2013:367169. doi:10.1155/2013/367169
- Tsai CH, Hsu CJ, Hung CH, Hsu HC. Primary traumatic patellar dislocation. J Orthop Surg Res. 2012;7:21. doi:10.1186/1749-799X-7-21
- Ragab G, Elshahaly M, Bardin T. Gout: An old disease in new perspective - A review. J Adv Res. 2017;8(5):495-511. doi:10.1016/j.jare.2017.04.008
- Lee PYF, Nixion A, Chandratreya A, Murray JM. Synovial Plica Syndrome of the Knee: A Commonly Overlooked Cause of Anterior Knee Pain. Surg J (N Y). 2017;3(1):e9-e16. doi:10.1055/s-0037-1598047
- Vaishya R, Azizi AT, Agarwal AK, Vijay V. Apophysitis of the Tibial Tuberosity (Osgood-Schlatter Disease): A Review. Cureus. 2016;8(9):e780. doi:10.7759/cureus.780
- Zanon G, Di vico G, Marullo M. Osteochondritis dissecans of the knee. Joints. 2014;2(1):29-36.
- Hindle P, Davidson E, Biant LC. Septic arthritis of the knee: the use and effect of antibiotics prior to diagnostic aspiration. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2012;94(5):351-5. doi:10.1308/003588412X13171221591015
- Gwinner C, Märdian S, Schwabe P, Schaser KD, Krapohl BD, Jung TM. Current concepts review: Fractures of the patella. GMS Interdiscip Plast Reconstr Surg DGPW. 2016;5:Doc01. doi:10.3205/iprs000080
- Voskuil R, Evenski AJ, Montgomery C, Emory CL. Malignant Bone Tumors of the Knee: How to Identify and Treat. J Knee Surg. 2019;32(4):305-314. doi:10.1055/s-0038-1675828
- Gupte C, St mart JP. The acute swollen knee: diagnosis and management. J R Soc Med. 2013;106(7):259-68. doi:10.1177/0141076813482831
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Unstable Kneecap.
- Bhatia D, Bejarano T, Novo M. Current interventions in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences 2013 Jan-Mar;5(1):30-38. doi:%2010.4103/0975-7406.106561
- Bronstein RD, Schaffer JC. Physical Examination of the Knee: Meniscus, Cartilage, and Patellofemoral Conditions. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2017 May;25(5):365-374.
- Browne K, Kurtz CA. How to perform a comprehensive examination of the knee. JAAPA. 2009 Jun;22(6):20-25.
- Hergenroeder AC, Harvey BS. (2017). Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD): Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. Bachur RG, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc.
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.