Knee Cartilage Tears (Articular)

Knee Cartilage Tears (Articular)


Your knee has two types of cartilage: articular and meniscal. Articular cartilage is a smooth, hard material located on the bones where they come into contact with other bones. This cartilage may become damaged due to injury or normal wear and tear.


Articular cartilage can be damaged by normal wear and tear. It can also be injured when the knee joint is compressed or when angular or shear forces are applied to the surface. Softening, fissuring, fragmenting or complete removal of the cartilage covering can result.


This cartilage has no nerve supplies, so mild or early injuries do not cause pain or sensitivity.  Symptoms of articular cartilage problems may not present themselves until later in life.

Symptoms of articular knee cartilage—once they do begin to appear—include:

  • Intermittent swelling
  • Pain associated with prolonged walking or stair climbing
  • Buckling or giving way when full weight is placed on the knee
  • Locking or catching
  • Noise during motion

Articular cartilage cannot repair itself if damaged. Therapy may include exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint. Medication may allow a more pain-free or more active life, will not cure the condition. Surgical treatments include debridement, to smooth the shredded or frayed articular cartilage, or abrasion, to encourage growth of new cartiladge.