Cartilage tears in the knee

A meniscal or cartilage tear is a common type of knee injury. Cartilage is the strong, flexible tissue that covers the joint surfaces. It allows the bones to slide smoothly over one another and acts as a shock absorber. The knee cartilages or menisci can gradually deteriorate due to wear and tear, or they can tear suddenly as a result of an accident or sporting injury. As a result, the knee can become painful, swollen, stiff, and unstable.

The Knee Specialists at London Orthopaedic Clinic offer expert assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of knee cartilage tears. The symptoms of minor meniscal injuries often settle spontaneously. However, severe cartilage damage may require specialist minimally-invasive surgery. The expert orthopaedic surgeons at the London Orthopaedic Clinic can operate in the Clinic’s state-of-the-art operating theatres to treat the tear, relieve pain, and restore movement and function.

What is a meniscal tear?

The meniscus is a cartilage pad in the knee. There are two menisci in each knee joint. They cushion the ends of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (lower leg bone), letting the joint surfaces glide smoothly over each other and absorbing shocks.

Tears in the meniscus can happen due to gradual wear and tear, or when there is an acute injury that stresses or twists the knee joint. Knee cartilage tears are frequently a result of sporting injuries in football, skiing, or racket sports.

Symptoms of knee cartilage tears

A sudden, severe tear in the knee cartilage causes significant swelling, reduced movement, and pain, which is not controlled by over-the-counter painkillers. You may not be able to bear weight on the injured leg, and the limb may give way when you try to walk.

More chronic cartilage injuries can cause knee pain that's worse on exercise but persists when resting. Swelling may only become apparent several days after the initial trauma. The joint is often stiff, movement is restricted, and the joint may make a clunking or grinding noise. Loose or ragged pieces of cartilage can cause the joint to lock, catch, or give way.

Severe cartilage tears will not get better without specialist intervention. Without treatment, the joint can become damaged and worn down. The symptoms of sprains, strains, and cartilage tears can overlap. However, the orthopaedic consultants at the London Orthopaedic Clinic are experts in the investigation, diagnosis, and treatment of knee problems. If knee pain, stiffness, and swelling are affecting your mobility and your quality of life, they can uncover the cause of your problems.

How can the London Orthopaedic Clinic help with knee arthritis?

The London Orthopaedic Clinic has a dedicated hip and knee unit. The Clinic offers a same-day service for the thorough assessment and diagnosis of knee problems. The world-leading orthopaedic surgeons may arrange imaging by X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI to get detailed information about any cartilage damage and the health of your knee. They will answer your questions, consider your wishes, and create a bespoke treatment plan targeted to your knee, bearing in mind your lifestyle and your individual needs. This may include:

  • Rest and self-help advice: Anti-inflammatories, rest, and ice can help with minor cartilage tears.
  • Specialist physiotherapy: Expert physio can initially reduce inflammation, then help stretch and strengthen the tendon.

If there is a severe tear if the problems are chronic, or if conservative measures have not provided relief, the consultant orthopaedic surgeons at the London Orthopaedic clinic can operate to treat the tear:

A minimally invasive, or 'keyhole' operation for the investigation and treatment of meniscal damage. Through the arthroscope, your surgeon can inspect the knee joint, repair tears in the menisci, trim any damaged cartilage, remove all loose fragments, and encourage new cartilage growth.


Why choose the London Orthopaedic Clinic?

The London Orthopaedic Clinic provides high-quality, expert orthopaedic and musculoskeletal care, tailored to the individual needs of our patients. The Clinic is based at Mayo Clinic Healthcare, at the heart of London's internationally renowned Harley Street medical district. The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers cutting-edge diagnostics, treatment, management, and personalised care.

The expert multi-disciplinary team includes more than 25 leading orthopaedic surgeons, plastic surgeons, pain management specialists, and radiologists. They work together to reduce pain, improve movement and make a real difference to patients' lives.

The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers patients something truly unique: access to world-leading experts, high-tech imaging, and the latest innovative treatments, together with the feeling of trust and safety of a small family practice

Knee cartilage treatment costs

Your health insurance policy may cover the investigation and treatment of meniscal tears at the London Orthopaedic Clinic. Competitive packages are also available for self-paying patients. Contact a member of our friendly team on 020 7186 1000 or at to find out more.