Knee Cartilage Surgery

Written by Dr Gowreeson Thevendran, MBChB (Bristol), MRCS.Ed, Dip. Sports Med.Ed, FRCS.Ed (Trauma & Ortho. ), FAMS (Singapore)

What Is Knee Cartilage

Knee cartilage is a resilient, smooth tissue that lines the ends of bones in the knee joint, facilitating fluid movement and bearing the brunt of daily activities. Primarily, it consists of the articular cartilage and the menisci, each playing a crucial role in maintaining knee health and functionality.

What Is Knee Cartilage Damage

Knee cartilage damage is a condition where the cartilage in the knee deteriorates or is injured, leading to pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. It can result from acute injuries, such as a sports accident, or from chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, where the wear and tear over time gradually impair the cartilage's integrity.

Symptoms Of Knee Cartilage Degeneration

The degradation of knee cartilage manifests through various symptoms, gradually intensifying as the condition progresses.  

Symptoms may include: 

  • Persistent knee pain, especially when engaging in activities
  • Swelling
  • Reduced flexibility
  • Grinding sensation or popping in the knee
  • Visible deformity
  • Instability in the knee joint

Diagnosing Knee Cartilage Degeneration

Accurate diagnosis is crucial for the effective management of knee cartilage degeneration. The process usually starts with a thorough clinical evaluation by an orthopaedic specialist, focusing on the knee's range of motion, stability, and areas of discomfort. Following the initial assessment, the diagnostic process typically includes:

  • X-ray Imaging: This step helps identify any alterations in bone structure, such as bone spurs or changes in joint space, which can indicate cartilage loss.
  • MRI Scan: MRI provides detailed, high-resolution images of both the hard and soft tissues within the knee, including the cartilage. This tool is particularly useful for assessing the extent of cartilage damage.
  • Diagnostic Arthroscopy: In some cases, a more direct and detailed assessment is needed. Diagnostic arthroscopy involves inserting a small camera into the knee joint, offering a clear view of the cartilage and surrounding structures.

Early diagnosis and intervention by an orthopaedic surgeon is key to effectively managing knee cartilage degeneration and preventing the progression of symptoms. 

Non-surgical Knee Cartilage Treatment

Non-surgical treatment options for knee cartilage issues include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and joint injections. These non-surgical interventions aim to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve joint function.

Arthroscopic Knee Cartilage Surgery

When conservative treatments are ineffective, surgery may be recommended. Arthroscopic knee cartilage surgery is a minimally invasive technique that allows for precise repair or removal of damaged cartilage through small incisions, using an arthroscope and specialised tools. The advantages of arthroscopic knee cartilage surgery, compared to traditional open knee surgery are reduced pain post-surgery and shorter recovery times, making it a preferred option for many patients. 

Knee Cartilage Replacement/ Regeneration

For severe cartilage deterioration, knee cartilage replacement or regeneration stands as a progressive solution. Procedures such as autologous chondrocyte implantation and osteochondral grafts are employed to transfer healthy cartilage cells or tissue to the affected regions. These techniques aim to repair the damaged cartilage, ultimately enhancing knee function. Such advanced methods represent the forefront of orthopaedic treatment and surgery, offering enduring relief and improved quality of life for individuals with severe cartilage damage.

Recovery Period For Knee Cartilage Replacement

After knee cartilage replacement or regeneration, the recovery period varies based on the specific surgical method and the patient's individual healing process. Patients will be advised to rest, followed by a transition into a structured rehabilitation program to rebuild muscle strength and enhance joint mobility. 

The recovery process may extend over several months and it is important to have regular check-ins with your healthcare professionals for gradual and steady improvements after surgery.

Dr Gowreeson Thevendran

Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is an orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore that specialises in orthopaedics and trauma surgery. His particular skill set is minimally invasive surgical techniques to treat foot, ankle, knee, and hip/thigh conditions. He pursued fellowship training for sports surgery at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, UK and complex trauma and deformity correction at Royal Liverpool University Hospital, UK. He also continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at Tan Tock Seng Hospital as a visiting consultant.

If you are suffering from pain in any other joints such as hips or shoulders, you can consult our qualified orthopaedic surgeon who will thoroughly assess your condition for hip replacement surgery or shoulder tendon pain treatment. 

Furthermore, our orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore can also assist you with other painful conditions related to your foot or ankle through appropriate procedures which may include bunion surgery, treatment for plantar fasciitis and other surgeries.


  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, University of Bristol, England
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
  • Diplomate Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh
  • Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore


  • SICOT PIONEER Founders Award 2020
  • 2015 European Foot & Ankle Society ‘Best Podium Presentation’ Award
  • 2013 Singapore Orthopaedic Association Junior Travelling Fellowship
  • 2012 NHG Critical Talent Special Recognition Award
  • 1998 Enid Lindt Prize in Clinical Surgery
  • 1995 Public Services Department Full Medical scholarship

Knee CartilageSurgery Frequently Asked Questions

1What are the causes of knee cartilage damage?

Knee cartilage damage can stem from various factors, including trauma or injury from falls or sports, wear and tear due to repetitive motion or ageing, and excess body weight that increases stress on the joints. Structural misalignments in the knee can unevenly distribute weight, accelerating cartilage degradation. Additionally, inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, a sedentary lifestyle, and genetic predispositions can also contribute to the deterioration of knee cartilage.

2Does insurance and medisave cover knee cartilage surgery?

Orthofoot MD is on the panels of different health insurance plans and also accepts Medisave. Patients seeking knee cartilage surgery in Singapore should inquire with both their insurance provider and the clinic regarding their eligibility for insurance and Medisave coverage. While multiple treatments may be covered, the extent of coverage for knee cartilage injury treatment and surgery may vary and is subject to verification by the clinic.

3What happens if knee cartilage degeneration is left untreated?

If knee cartilage degeneration is left untreated, it can lead to progressive symptoms and worsening joint function. Over time, these symptoms can intensify, resulting in severe pain, reduced mobility, and even instability in the knee. As the cartilage continues to wear down, the bones may start to rub against each other, potentially leading to bone damage and deformities and may affect daily activities.

4What are the risks or complications for knee cartilage surgery?

Potential risks of knee cartilage surgery include inflammation, infection, joint stiffness, hematoma formation, or blood clots. There's also a small risk of graft displacement or cartilage fragment movement, possibly requiring additional surgery. Discussing these risks with your surgeon and adhering to post-operative care instructions is crucial to minimise complications.

Early intervention is key to managing symptoms effectively and slowing the progression of cartilage degeneration.

Clinic Location


OrthofootMD@Mount Alvernia Hospital