This refers to damage of the smooth cartilage that lines the ends of the bones within the knee. There are a variety of ways in which this damage can occur, from direct blows to twisting injuries or falls.
Pain will be felt deep inside the knee at the time of injury. The knee will swell and this may be fast or gradual depending on the severity of injury. Once the knee settles you may find you still get pain with certain activities that put weight through the damaged area. There is often ongoing, persistent swelling in the knee. There may be the feeling of something loose moving around in the knee, or the sensation of giving way.
If you think you have this injury it is important to get it checked out by Mr Willis-Owen. It is best to stop sports until you have been checked to prevent further damage. It is important to treat the early phase with rest, ice, compression and elevation in order to minimise the bleeding and swelling. You should avoid any activities that lead to severe pain, because this can lead to further damage to the knee.
Treatment involves first confirming the diagnosis and establishing the site and extent of the damage. This usually means a careful examination and an MRI scan. Arthroscopic surgery is often required to tidy up areas of cartilage damage and there are a variety of techniques that can be used to try to promote healing of the damaged area. Sometimes these heal on their own, but more often intervention is needed. Severe injuries can have significant long-term effects and unfortunately they can lead to arthritis over the years. Surgery is aimed at preventing this from happening. See the information page on arthroscopic surgery of the knee. Sometimes an injection of Durolane is the best option.