Knee Cartilage Tears : Judo Injuries

The lateral and medial meniscus cartilage in your knee helps to absorb pressure on the knee joint during high impact activities. They also maintain knee stability and effective smooth movement between the upper and lower leg. In judo the constant movement and landings on your feet can all be stressful to the knee cartilage, in addition to single incidents that are liable to damage the cartilage.

Symptoms of Knee Cartilage Tears

Intense pain in the knee, possibly restricted to the inside or outside of the knee depending on which cartilage is affected. The pain may be worse when straightening the leg or bearing weight, and in some cases the knee locks into position. Knee movement is often restricted, and there might be swelling at the site of injury. If the injury is severe then it can be debilitating; walking can be very painful. Occasionally a cartilage tear can arise without obvious symptoms.

Causes of Knee Cartilage Tears

Cartilage tears are most frequently provoked due to sudden movements, especially twisting and turning. Such movements can occur in judo while grappling and attempting to free yourself from an opponent. A specific twisting motion that often leads to such injuries involves turning the knee while the foot and the rest of the leg remain still. If your opponent is putting weight or pressure on you at the same time, this can increase the risk of a tear. Occasionally a tear may be due to progressive degeneration in the cartilage; this can arise from long periods of strenuous knee movement.

Medical Treatment

The doctor will examine the injury and ascertain whether the lateral or medial meniscus has sustained the damage. In either case minor tears should recover within 1 to 2 months of responsible rest from judo and any other stressful leg activities. You should take analgesics or anti-inflammatory pain medication as directed, and ice the area around 3 times per day for the first week or so in order to relieve swelling symptoms. The doctor might use a bandage to compress the injury site.

More serious tears can necessitate treatment like keyhole surgery (arthroscopy) and may heal far more slowly. This is not helped by the poor blood supply to the centre of the cartilage. What is originally thought to be a minor tear can sometimes emerge as a major tear if no progress is shown after a number of weeks. Following on from successful surgery, a steady physical therapy program can assist in rebuilding strength and motion in the affected knee. The process prepares you for a return to judo and other sports, which you should not do without being free of symptoms and having consulted a professional.

Prevention for Knee Cartilage Tears

The best methods of prevention are to keep your legs and knees strong and in good condition and to keep your wits about you while competing in judo, thereby understanding your movements at all times and reducing the likelihood of damage.

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