A torn meniscus is one of the most commonly suffered knee injuries. Meniscus tears are highly traumatic injuries and extremely painful. While accidents can occur at random and therefore, people of all ages and lifestyles can sustain a meniscus tear, individuals that practice sports that involve shorts bursts and quick directional changes will put their knees through significant twisting and stress on a regular basis. These athletes as well as elderly patients are most susceptible to a meniscus tear.
The menisci are a pair of fibrous, cylindrical cartilaginous structures that divide the bones of individual joints of the body. They are explicitly found inside the joints of the knees, wrists, clavicles, sternum, and jawbones. In the case of the knee joint, there is a meniscus on the inside and another on the outside. They are attached to the main shinbone (tibia) and helps to increase the surface area between the thigh bone (femur) and the tibia, which works to reduce friction and promote fluid joint movement.
The internal meniscus is crescent-shaped, much more open than the outer meniscus which is almost circular. It is the inner meniscus that is more likely to tear because it is attached to the joint capsule and has a more restricted range of motion in comparison to the outer meniscus.
Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus
Meniscus tears generate a significant amount of pain and swelling. Most people also experience complete rigidity of the joint and find it virtually impossible to push the joint through its full range of motion. If a torn meniscus is suspected, an orthopedic surgeon will evaluate all physical symptoms through manual inspection of the joint and a variety of imaging tests and scans.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. The exact location and size of the tear will be critical in deciding the course of action to follow. Additionally, the patient’s medical history, age, and physical condition will also contribute to the decision. If the injury is moderate, it is possible that it can heal without having to undergo surgical intervention.
However, if the damage is severe or the patient is of advanced age, it is likely that nonsurgical methods will not suffice. In these cases, surgery will be recommended.
Surgical Meniscus Tear Treatment
Meniscus surgery is usually performed through an arthroscopic method, which allows the surgeon to operate in a minimally invasive manner. Using an arthroscope, tiny camera, surgeons can receive high resolution images of the interior of the knee, preventing the need for open surgery. Arthroscopic surgery has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of postoperative complications as well as allowing for a faster recovery period.
Surgical meniscus treatments include:
- Meniscus repair
- Partial meniscectomy
- Total meniscectomy
- Meniscus transplant
Surgeons will utilize the least invasive approach necessary to provide substantial relief from the patient’s torn meniscus. The degree of surgery depends on the severity of the damage sustained on the meniscus and surrounding tissue. During the surgery, the doctor will remove any damaged tissue and create space for any replacement tissue or materials. Surgeons may simply remove damaged tissue and allow the body to naturally heal the meniscus on its own.
All procedures can be performed under local anesthetic, and in most cases, the patient is free to go home the day of the surgery. Recovery is relatively fast, with most patients able to return to regular activity within a 3 to 4 month period.
Other Spine List
- Normal Anatomy of the Knee Joint
- Knee Arthritis
- Knee Fracture
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears
- Arthroscopy of the Knee Joint
- Total Knee Replacement (TKR)
- ACL Reconstruction Hamstring Tendon
- ACL Reconstruction Patellar Tendon
- Uni Condylar Knee Replacement
- Meniscus Repair
- Patellofemoral Instability
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament ACL Reconstruction