Knee injuries are common – not just among professional athletes, but also for the weekend warrior. Sometimes, even with preventative measures, you still end up getting injured while you are playing sports.

In sports, we hear about the MCL (medial collateral ligament) and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries.

These injuries relate to the knee and can be painful and debilitating. But in the world of knee injuries, another term that really sticks out is: cartilage.

To learn more about knee injuries, we turned to Jay Lieberman, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck Medicine of USC.

He helped provide some insight:

What is cartilage and what purpose does it serve?

Cartilage is the tissue at the end of the bones and in your joints. Cartilage is a firm tissue that allows you to have pain-free range of motion of your joint.

What can you do to prevent an injury in the knees?

The following tips will help prevent injury and become more important, particularly with age:

  • Stretch before you play
  • Your exercise program should incorporate strengthening of the quadricep and hamstring muscles
  • Ice muscles after activity.
  • Maintain an appropriate weight to reduce the pounding on the knees during activity.

If you were diagnosed with a tear in your knee cartilage, what is the process to recovery?

Depending on the degree of your injury, you will likely be given a set of guidelines for recovery after visiting with your orthopaedic surgeon, which may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Prescribed physical therapy
  • Home exercise program

In many instances, this treatment solves the problem.

If you still have pain, then your physician may try to directly relieve the inflammation in the joint with an injection (i.e. cortisone, hyaluronic and platelet rich plasma).

If you suffer from a knee injury, make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist. To learn more about USC Orthopaedic Surgery, visit

To schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit