The knee is basically a hinge joint positioned in between the upper and lower leg bones. There are two cartilages that provides cushion, namely the medial and lateral meniscus. These are responsible for reducing the friction between the leg bones at the knee.
The kneecap functions as a shield for the joint. The interior aspect of the patella is also lined with cartilage which allows smooth movement of the leg bones behind the kneecap. Issues with the patellar or meniscal knee cartilage can trigger pain and drastically disrupt with normal knee function.
Various activities such as sports or recreational activities usually involve the knees. Those who engage in sports that require continuous use of the knees faces a higher risk for ending up with injuries on the knee including the knee cartilage.
Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and post-traumatic arthritis can destroy the knee cartilage in a progressive manner. When it comes to osteoarthritis, the knee cartilage steadily degrades due to progressive wear and tear. It is important to note that the lifetime risk for symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee has been increasing. The degree of risk increases with advancing age, obesity and history of previous knee injuries.
As for rheumatoid arthritis, it is an autoimmune condition affecting the joints. The knee cartilage is destroyed by the enzymes that were released during current immune system activity inside the joint.
Chondromalacia patella is described as a degenerative condition of the kneecap cartilage that is due to overuse of the knee or misalignment of the kneecap over the leg bones. This condition typically develops among individuals who engage in sports or recreational activities that continuously strain the knee which includes rowing, running, cycling, skiing or snowboarding. Remember that this condition usually causes localized pain with extended periods of knee bending. In most cases, the knee pain can be accompanied by a grinding sensation and swelling.
Degenerative changes or traumatic injury in the knee menisci can result to tears. There are various types of meniscus tears in which some can be severe. The full-thickness tears are severe injuries in which a piece of the torn cartilage detaches and floats inside the knee joint, thus disrupting full bending and straightening of the knee.
For minor cases of meniscus tears, the ability of the individual to walk is not affected but can cause issues during certain types of activities particularly those that require complete bending or twisting of the knee.
Depending on the cause of the knee cartilage problem experienced by the individual, it is best to schedule an appointment with a doctor so that proper assessment of the condition can be carried out.