Depending on the severity of the tear, treatment options for torn knee cartilage include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, or surgical procedures, such as meniscectomy, according to MedicineNet. While periods of rest and limited physical activity are also helpful, torn cartilage may never be fully restored.
A person's age, level of participation in physical activities, and prior knee injuries along with the size and location of the current tear can influence treatment options. For example, a tear found along the outer rim of the cartilage may heal faster than a tear located further inside due to increased blood flow, which aids in the healing process, as stated by WebMD. A combination of physical therapy, over-the-counter medications, and periods of rest all help the torn cartilage heal.
If non-surgical treatments fail to reduce pain and swelling or if the knee remains stiff or locks up when walking or standing, surgical procedures, such as cartilage trimming, may be necessary to restore functionality, as reported by Mayo Clinic. A tear caused by degenerative joint disease, known as osteoarthritis, may require periodic cortisone injections; hyaluronan preparations; over-the-counter supplements, such as gluclosamine and chrondroitin; or joint replacement surgery to reduce pain and swelling, according to MedicineNet.