A torn cartilage, or meniscal tear, is a common knee injury in sport. As the knee joint bends the thigh bone moves on the top surface of the shin bone. Under certain circumstances, the meniscus that provides a ‘cushion’ between the two bones can get nipped and torn.
The symptoms of a torn meniscus are swelling and pain with the knee, a difficulty bending the knee and an inability to weight-bear. Crutches or a knee brace may be necessary for the first few days.
In some cases, after the initial knee pain and swelling, the swollen knee joint settles down and normal activities can be resumed without knee surgery. However, in the case of a sporting individual, if the flap of torn cartilage causes knee locking or giving way, surgery is required. Knee surgery is usually done using arthroscopy, with as little meniscus tissue as possible removed, to minimise the risk of arthritis of the knee.
Post-surgery, a thorough rehabilitation programme to restore the range of movement, improve balance and maintain quadriceps strength may be prescribed. These may include: squatting, single calf raises and balance exercises.