What are the treatments for torn cartilage in the knee?

Updated April 17, 2017

Torn cartilage in the knee can seriously impede normal knee joint function and cause severe pain. Adequately treating a knee cartilage tear can help speed recovery and prevent complications.

Conservative Treatment

When a knee cartilage tear is not severe and does not cause significant pain or mobility issues, over-the-counter pain medication and activity modification are used.

Knee Joint Injection

The pain and irritation caused by torn knee cartilage can be reduced and managed with a knee joint injection. This involves injecting the area of torn cartilage with a corticosteroid, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.

Arthroscopic Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is used to trim or repair an area of torn knee cartilage. A relatively minor procedure, arthroscopic surgery involves inserting a tiny camera into the joint to visualise the joint surfaces. Small surgical instruments can then used in the joint to make repairs.

Knee Cartilage Removal

When knee cartilage tears are severe or are causing significant pain and irritation, surgery can remove the damaged portion of cartilage. In some cases, the entire flap of cartilage lining either side of the knee joint is removed.


Knee cartilage tears often lead to degenerative changes within the knee joint over time. Osteoarthritis, which is a wear-and-tear form of arthritis, is a common occurrence following many types of knee injuries, including cartilage tears.

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