Cartilage tear

September 11th 2015 |

What is it?

Cartilage comes in different forms. One type of cartilage is the shiny stuff on the ends of bones. That helps to protect the ends of the bone during joint movement.
The other type of cartilage – the type we will discuss here – includes structures like the Meniscus of the knee and the Labrum of the hip and shoulder joints.

Cartilage like that helps to provide stability to joints. Let’s take an example. The shoulder is a shallow joint with a small socket and a big ball. That makes it inherently unstable. The Labrum deepens the joint to make it more stable.

The Meniscus or Labrum can be torn in cases of high force. A tear to the cartilage means that the joint is less stable. In some cases, people can suffer from a degenerative Meniscus. This is a different condition to the one described here.

Possible symptoms

There is always an incident that causes a cartilage tear. The incident could be something like jumping and landing with a twist in sport. You will usually hear a p
op or snap during this incident. There is usually a lot of swelling in the knee which comes up after several hours or even the next day. In the shoulder or hip, swelling is not usually as easy to see. Following the initial incident, the affected joint will become stiffer and it will usually – but not always – be sore.

Other symptoms include clicking, a feeling of instability or giving way and sometimes the affected joint can lock or be difficult to move beyond a particular position.

What can cause this?

Knee: Usually, a high force activity. For example landing from a jump in a twisted position.
Shoulder: dislocations or subluxation. High force incidents that drive the arm behind the body cancause a shoulder Labral tear. One patient for example had a Labral tear after trying to catch a sheep who had run past him.
Hip: Twisting on a weight bearing leg can sometimes cause a hip Labral tear.

If you think that you might have a cartilage tear or want some advice on why it has happened and how to fix it, then call us on 01595 692727 or email on

Ross Smith