What is Knee Cartilage?
Cartilage is found throughout the human body and lines the joints’ surfaces. The connective tissue is less rigid than bone but is stiff enough to help absorb stress when placed on the joint. Cartilage provides a smooth protective layer within the knee joint, covering the tibia (shinbone), femur (thighbone) and the undersurface of the patella (kneecap). When a patient experiences a knee cartilage injury from trauma, overuse, a sports injury or natural degeneration from aging, they often feel chronic knee joint pain and swelling. Patients living in the Vail, Aspen, Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado area suffering from a cartilage injury in the knee can depend on Dr. Matthew Provencher, knee specialist, to treat the injury and to return them to their daily activities and active lifestyles.
A knee cartilage injury can range from mild softening of the connective tissue to torn cartilage displaying underlying bone. Patients may also experience “loose bodies” floating within the knee joint. The term loose bodies refers to cartilage that has become separated from the bone during a traumatic event or age related degeneration and now floats unattached within the joint. Loose bodies have the potential to cause troublesome mechanical issues, such as catching and locking. In addition, cartilage damage can cause continued swelling, pain and limitation of motion and prevents the knee from full function.
What are Symptoms of a Knee Cartilage Injury?
The hallmark symptoms of a cartilage injury are constant, dull knee joint pain and swelling. Patients with loose bodies may also experience mechanical symptoms, including joint locking and catching.
How to Know if You have Damage to Knee Cartilage
Dr. Provencher will perform a thorough medical review and physical examination of the affected knee to reach a concrete diagnosis of a knee cartilage injury. Symptoms, such as knee joint pain, associated with a cartilage injury often mimic or overlap other joint injuries. Because of this, Dr. Provencher typically performs a series of x-rays and an MRI scan to rule out other knee injuries and to confirm the diagnosis.