Chondral injuries can happen to all age groups, especially athletes who practise high-impact sports like rugby, soccer, football and basketball or those who do strenuous jobs.
Articular cartilage is a sort of cushion that facilitates the smooth sliding motion of the joints. The chondral cells, called chondrocytes, make this tissue elastic, smooth, and resistant to stress, such as pressure or traction. It absorbs shock while walking or running.
In knee-related pathologies, the chondral lesion manifests itself with muscle pain even during simple movements, accompanied by pain in the joint, crackling sounds, and movement limitation. If the cartilage detaches from the bone, it can fully hinder the movement of the joint.
You should call a doctor when the pain becomes acute and localized or when mechanical symptoms such as jerks or joint blockage occur.
It is always recommended to perform radiographs or x-rays of the symptomatic knee in the anteroposterior weight-bearing view, axial and lateral weight-bearing view of the kneecap (patella), including the Rosenberg method. When a chondral lesion is suspected, specific tests such as MRI and CT scan are required in some cases.
Before a visit, decrease activity and take anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers as prescribed by your treating doctor. Use crutches or a walking cane to decrease the load on the joint. Apply ice to the joint, but not in direct contact with the skin.
To prevent cartilage injuries, you should stay active in sports and exercise, using equipment and appropriate footwear to cushion the impact of load on the joint. Obesity is a direct cause of cartilage wear, and therefore your weight should always be kept under control with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
The treatment for chondral lesions depends on the severity of the injury, which may require surgery in case of medium to severe trauma. If there is no severe damage, the usual recommended treatment would be to rest, combined with anti-inflammatory drugs, hyaluronic acid injection, and physiotherapy exercises.