What is a meniscus?
There are 3 bones in the knee. These are the femur, tibia, and patella. The ends of those bones are covered with cartilage. This is a smooth material that cushions the bone and allows the joint to move easily without pain. Between the bones of the knees are 2 crescent-shaped disks of connective tissue, called menisci. These act as shock absorbers to cushion the lower part of the leg from the weight of the rest of the body and as a secondary stabilizer to the knee.
What causes a torn meniscus?
A torn meniscus is often caused by twisting or turning quickly when you knee is bent. They often occur when playing sports or lifting something heavy. As you age the meniscus becomes worn and can tear more easily. There are several different types of tears, ranging from minor degenerative tears to major traumatic tears.
What are the symptoms of a torn meniscus?
Each person may have different symptoms. But the most common symptoms are:
- Pain, especially when holding the knee straight
- Swelling and stiffness
- Knee may catch, click, or lock
- Knee may feel weak or unstable
These symptoms may look like other health conditions or problems so it is important to make an appointment with me to determine what is causing your knee problem.
How is a torn meniscus diagnosed?
We’ll want to find out about past injuries and what you were doing when your injury occurred. In addition to your medical history and physical exam, we will take an x-ray. You may need an MRI which can help us determine if there is damage or disease in a surrounding ligament, tendon, or bone.
How is a torn meniscus treated?
An untreated torn meniscus can result in instability of the knee and lasting pain. It can also increase your risk of osteoarthritis.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on the severity of the condition. Treatment may include:
- Medicine to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, such as ibuprofen
- Muscle-strengthening exercises
- Arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove part of the meniscus
What happens if I need arthroscopic surgery?
This is a minimally invasive procedure typically done on an outpatient basis. Two small incisions are made. A camera is inserted through one incision providing a video feed on a nearby monitor allowing me to look into your knee. Through the other small incision, a specialized instrument will be used to repair your knee problem.