ValleyOrtho’s physicians treat a wide range of common knee injuries, including meniscal injuries.
The meniscus cartilage in the knee includes 2 pieces: a medial (inside) meniscus and a lateral (outside) meniscus, which are referred together as menisci. The menisci are wedge shaped, and are thinner toward the center of the knee and thicker toward the outside of the knee joint. This shape is very important to its function.
The primary function of the menisci is to increase the weight bearing surface and distribute weight evenly across the knee joint. A relatively round femur (upper leg/thigh bone) sitting on a relatively flat tibia (shin bone) forms the knee joint. The wedge shaped menisci increase the joint contact surface area and provide shock absorption, lubrication and joint stability to the knee.
- Pain along the knee joint line
- Clicking, catching and/or locking
- Restricted knee motion
A torn meniscus can lead to knee arthritis if not managed properly.
Meniscus tears can be diagnosed by taking a detailed history and completing a physical examination. An MRI may be used to assist in making the diagnosis since the MRI can show a detailed image of the menisci.
Acute Traumatic Tears — These occur most frequently in athletes as a result of a twisting injury to the knee when the foot is in contact with the ground during a cutting or pivoting motion.
Degenerative Meniscal Tears — These occur most commonly in middle-aged to older adults and take place when repetitive stresses severely weaken the meniscal tissue over a long period of time. Degenerative meniscal tears are often associated with arthritis (degenerative joint disease). A torn fragment of the meniscus must be removed surgically if the degenerative meniscal tear is causing catching or locking in the knee.
The treatment will depend on the location of the tear, the size of the tear, overall knee stability, the patient’s age and any other associated injuries.
- Rehabilitation without surgery
- Surgery to remove the area of torn meniscus
- Surgery to repair (stitch together) the torn meniscus
In deciding to repair or remove a damaged piece of meniscus the location of the tear is important. The outer portion of the meniscus has a good blood supply whereas the inner portion has poor blood supply. Areas with good blood supply are much more likely to heal when repaired than areas with poor blood supply.
The majority of meniscus injuries respond to a nonsurgical approach, but if symptoms worsen, surgery might be a solution to consider.
ValleyOrtho is committed to developing specifically tailored treatment plans to help get patients back to an active lifestyle.