The meniscus is a C-shaped cartilage that’s found right between the thigh bone and the shin bone. Its purpose is to serve as a shock absorbent pad and to create enough cushioned and fluid separation to allow for smooth, frictionless movement of the joint.
The meniscus also helps distribute our weight evenly across the joint in order to avoid putting pressure on the joint and increase the risk of arthritis. For this same reason, the meniscus is very likely to wear and tear. In fact, meniscal tears are very common knee injuries and they can be developed by people of all ages, but especially young adults who are active in rigorous athletics or contact sports.
Meniscal Tear Causes
Meniscus tears can be very different depending on the location, shape and severity. The cause for meniscal tears in adults is usually sudden twists, squats, or the result of a trauma such as a tackle. Whether through accidental impact or careless overuse, young adults (especially athletes) need to place a high degree of focus on the health of their knees. Knee injuries can be debilitating and life-changing. As you exercise and perform in athletic competitions, understand the different variable (ex. other athletes falling onto your knee) and non-variable (ex. overuse) factors that can wear down your knee cartilage or lead to instant cartilage tears.
In elderly patients, the cause is usually related to age and the expected wear and tear of the cartilage.
Meniscal Tear Symptoms & Diagnosis
Meniscal tears can cause great pain, stiffness, swelling, locking or catching of the knee, and it can also limit one’s range of motion. This kind of tear can be diagnosed by a physician by analyzing the symptoms and running tests such as X-rays or an MRI scans. Having a complete understanding of the severity and location of the tear will inform doctors as to what the best steps are moving forward to help you reclaim and salvage your optimal knee functionality.
Meniscal Tear Treatment
Immediate treatment for meniscal tears consists of rest, ice, compression, and elevation, as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to help with pain.
In severe cases of meniscal tears, surgery is the best form of treatment. Meniscectomy surgery (meniscus repair) consists of using an arthroscopic technique and it requires the patient to be under local, regional or general anesthesia. Postoperative care includes a rehabilitation program for better and faster recovery.
The arthroscope is a small fiber-optic viewing instrument that’s used in surgery and that includes a tiny camera and light sources that provides a clear view of the joint on an external monitor. This will help the surgeon have a complete look at the knee, the cartilage and the ligaments without having to make a large incision.
In order to use this device, the surgeon has to make two small incisions, of about a quarter of an inch each, around the knee joint. These are portals through which the arthroscope will be inserted through one of them, while the other one is for the use of small surgical instruments.
Thanks to the arthroscope, the surgeon will be able to look at the menisci and confirm the kind of tear, the location, and the extent, so that he can devise a plan of action. Once the meniscal tear is found, the torn menisci will be removed with the use of surgical scissors and shavers as well. It will be replaced with a healthy tissue graft. Once the graft is affixed to the knee joint, the small incisions are treated, and the patient will begin the rehabilitation process.
Other Spine List
- Normal Anatomy of the Knee Joint
- Knee Arthritis
- Knee Fracture
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears
- Meniscus Tear
- Arthroscopy of the Knee Joint
- Total Knee Replacement (TKR)
- ACL Reconstruction Hamstring Tendon
- ACL Reconstruction Patellar Tendon
- Uni Condylar Knee Replacement
- Patellofemoral Instability
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament ACL Reconstruction