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Clearing up confusion about knee cartilage

It is a source of perpetual frustration to me that doctors fail to clarify in patient's minds the difference between the two kinds of knee cartilage - the articular cartiage covering the ends of the long bones and the meniscal cartilage which forms the shock absorber of the knee. With today's focus on online search, it is not fair to patients who are trying to find out more about their knee condition.

In March 2014 Dr Jack Farr (knee surgeon) and Ms Janet Hamilton (running coach/physiotherapist) discussed this issue on a Google Hangout, so that anyone researching on this site can be clear about the differences -



The problem has arisen because the old (and defunct) name for the meniscus was 'semi-lunar cartilage', because each meniscus resembles a half moon. But doctors never use this name any more - they just talk of the meniscus, and they reserve the term 'cartilage' for the articular cartilage at the end of the bones.

However, they perpetuate the confusion because they tell patients 'You have torn one of your cartilages', but then they write in their own notes 'Tear of the meniscus'!!!

Updated: 23 Jun, 2014

Dr Sheila Strover

Clinical Editor
BSc (Hons)

Dr Sheila Strover is the founder of the KNEEguru website. Although not a knee surgeon, she has a sound understanding of knee surgery and...

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