Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Athlete’s knee problems and the cartilage know how:

Knee pain is one of the commonest in athlete. The following are the most common causes:

1. Cartilage Tears
2. Patellar Tendinitis
3. ACL Injuries

The menisci: The two crescent-shaped pads of cartilage are present in both knees. The pad on the inner side of the knee is the ‘medial meniscus’, while the outer one is the ‘lateral meniscus’.

Together they act in four different ways to improve knee function:
1. They spread load across the joint. In standing, this is up to 50% of the supported load; in flexion (bending at the knee) it increases to 90%
2. They improve joint congruency or stability
3. They increase the contact surface area of the main leg bones, helping to spread the weight of the body across a greater area of articular cartilage
4. They help to circulate synovial (joint) fluid around the knee.

Crucially, the menisci have limited healing potential as their blood supply only reaches the outermost 10% to 30% of each meniscus. Within this region tears may heal. But more centrally-located tears have very little chance of healing.

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