The meniscus in your knee is made up of two pieces of cartilage that work to absorb the shock that occurs between your thigh and your shin. This strong and flexible cartilage provides important cushioning to your knee while also serving a stabilizing function.
Menisci can get torn in a number of ways. Meniscal tears often happen following some type of traumatic event like a direct blow to the knee, or some type of hard landing, jarring motion or fast twisting of the knee.
Meniscus tears are common among athletes - especially those that play contact certain sports like football or sports that require a lot of fast twisting and quick pivoting movements like soccer.
Some meniscal tears are more moderate and others are very severe. Minor tears are not always as painful initially. With a mild meniscus tear you may experience an increase in pain and swelling over time along with increased stiffness. For very mild meniscal tears, treatment may include physical therapy, ice regimens, rest as needed and medications (anti-inflammation).
More serious meniscus injuries tend to be extremely painful at the time of the injury and they also exhibit a considerable amount of swelling early on paired with a limited range of motion for the knee.
More serious meniscus injuries may require treatment from an orthopedic surgeon and possibly orthopedic surgery. In order to treat a more serious meniscal tear, a board certified orthopedic surgeon may perform a meniscectomy. A menisectomy is the surgical procedure that orthopedic surgeons use to remove the damaged part of the meniscus - this may involve all or only a part of the meniscus.
Knee injuries are very common among athletes of all ages. If you are trying to learn more about the meniscus and a torn meniscus, check out the following five facts about meniscal tears:
- About half of the time, a meniscal tear occurs at the same time as an ACL injury
- It is sometimes possible to repair a torn meniscus with sutures
- The most successful repairs on a meniscal tear are longitudinal
- Medial and lateral tears happen about equally
- ACL rehab and recovery is not typically affected if a partial menisectomy is performed
If you think you may be suffering from an injury to your meniscus, it is advisable that you seek out the professional help of a trained medical care provider like an orthopedic surgeon. A thorough examination and diagnosis is recommended to address meniscus injuries.