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The cartilage covers the joint surface and ensures smooth gliding with minimal friction. Injuries or wear and tear can lead to damage of the cartilage in the knee joint.

Image by Ashley de Lotz

The cartilage of the knee joint is a smooth, elastic tissue layer that covers the joint surfaces and acts as a shock absorber for the knee. It consists of specialized cells called chondrocytes and an extracellular matrix mainly composed of collagen and proteoglycans.

Chondropathy is a collective term for various cartilage disorders in the knee joint. Chondromalacia describes a condition where the cartilage in the knee joint softens and becomes damaged. Ahlbäck's disease is a specific form of chondromalacia where the cartilage on the inner side of the knee joint is degraded.

The causes of cartilage injuries in the knee joint can be diverse. Acute injuries such as knee sprains, dislocations, or patellar dislocations can lead to tearing or damage of the cartilage. Chronic knee overuse or repetitive movements can also damage the cartilage in the knee joint.


The diagnosis of cartilage diseases in the knee joint is typically made through physical examination, imaging techniques such as X-rays or MRI, and arthroscopy, where the physician directly examines the knee joint.


The treatment of cartilage injuries in the knee joint depends on the severity of the injury. In most cases, conservative measures such as knee immobilization, physical therapy, and pain medication are applied. However, in larger injuries, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace the damaged cartilage.

One technique that has gained popularity in recent years is autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI). In this procedure, healthy cartilage is harvested from another part of the body and implanted into the damaged knee joint to replace the damaged cartilage.

Other procedures, such as microfracture or nanofracture, and osteochondral autograft transplantation (OATS), may also be used to repair damaged cartilage.

Overall, it is important to avoid cartilage injuries in the knee joint and seek appropriate treatment promptly if symptoms occur to prevent long-term damage and complications. Careful rehabilitation after a cartilage injury is crucial for restoring full mobility and functionality of the knee joint.

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