The meniscus is a "c" shaped piece of rubbery cartilage in the knee. Each knee has two menisci, medial meniscus on the inner aspect of the knee and the lateral meniscus on the outer aspect of the knee. The medial and lateral meniscus act as shock absorber between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia). The meniscus has limited blood supply and thus has different healing potential depending on the location, pattern, and extent of the tear.
Meniscal tears often occur during sports. These tears are usually caused by twisting motion or hyper flexion of the knee. Athletes who play sports such as football, tennis and basketball are at a higher risk of developing meniscal tears. They often occur in conjunction with ligamentous injury.
The symptoms of a meniscal tear include:
- Knee pain when walking
- A “popping “or “clicking” sensation
- Tenderness when pressing on the meniscus
- Swelling of the knee
- Limited motion of the knee joint
- Joint locking can occur if the torn cartilage gets caught between the femur and tibia preventing motion of the knee
A focused medical history and physical examination can help diagnose meniscal injury. Dr. Fischer may order imaging tests such as X-ray and MRI to help confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment depends on the pattern and location of the tear. If the meniscal tear is not severe, treatment may begin with non-surgical treatments that include:
- Rest: Avoid activities that may cause injury. You may need crutches temporarily to limit weight bearing.
- Ice: Ice application to reduce swelling
- Pain medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help reduce swelling and pain
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended for muscle and joint strengthening.
If the symptoms are persisting and conservative treatment fails, you may need a knee arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn meniscus.