The Menisci are pieces of cartilage that act as shock absorbers for the knee and help keep it stable. The two menisci are the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus. The medial is found on the inside of the knee while the lateral is found on the outside compartment. There are two types of meniscus injuries, acute and degenerative tears. Acute tears happen when the knee is bent and twisted with force while in a weight bearing position. Degenerative tears happen as the meniscus weakens and becomes less elastic over time.
- Catching of the knee
- Locking of the knee
- Feeling of no support in the knee
- Unable to use full range of motion in the knee
- Pain to the touch
Treatment for meniscal injury
When determining the treatment for a meniscal tear, the orthopaedic surgeon will consider the following factors:
- The patient's activity level
- The patient's age
- The location of the tear and the type of tear
- When the injury happened
- Injury symptoms
- Any other associated injuries
After considering these factors the doctor will choose to treat the injury non-operatively or surgically.
Many small meniscal tears will heal without surgical treatment. Also, some tears may have no symptoms and in other tears, symptoms may eventually disappear. Partial tears, degenerative tears, and stable tears may be observed for 2 - 3 months. If symptoms disappear, no surgery is needed. The use of a knee brace and restriction of activities may be recommended to prevent further injury.
Surgical treatment for a meniscal tear may be indicated if symptoms are disabling or last for more than 2-3 months, a displaced tear causes the joint to lock, the ACL ligament is also injured causing the knee to be highly unstable, the meniscus is unlikely to heal without treatment or the patient is a high-level athlete. If surgery is recommended, the procedure chosen is usually dependent on the location and type of meniscal tear. All procedures are performed through an arthroscope and usually don't require an overnight hospital stay.