Articular cartilage is the tough fibrous tissue that lines and covers the ends of the bony surface of the joints. This is responsible for providing the smooth, flexible, and pain-free movement of the knee joint.
When an individual suffers an injury to the knee, or experiences trauma, the articular knee cartilage can become damaged.
Over time, articular cartilage wears down through aging and degenerative processes. The injuries range from softening of the cartilage to cracks and/or breaks of the tissue, and can even result in the bare bones when the cartilage is completely worn away. They either result from traumatic mechanical destruction or progressive mechanical degeneration.
The different types of cartilage found in the body are:
- Articular or hyaline cartilage, covering the joint surfaces
- Fibrocartilage of the knee meniscus and vertebral disk
- Elastic cartilage such as the outer ear.
Osteoarthritis in the knee is the most painful articular cartilage injury because it is a progressive condition that continues to wear away the cartilage leading to exposed bone.
Symptoms of articular cartilage injuries
The common symptoms of articular cartilage injuries include:
- Difficulty in moving the joint
- Fractures in severe cases
- For mild to moderate injuries, non-surgical measures include rest, ice compress, pain relievers and physiotherapy
- For severe injuries, surgery is the only option.