What is a torn meniscus?
Torn meniscus is a common cartilage injury that can be caused by forceful twisting and turning as well as by degenerative changes as a result of arthritis. The two menisci act together as a cushion between the shinbone (tibia) and the thighbone (femur). When the meniscus gets damaged this is often indicated by symptoms such as pain, stiffness, swelling, a locking of the knee and a general feeling of instability. It can be diagnosed through a physical examination and confirmed through MRI.
The type and location of the tear, among other factors, will dictate the treatment. If the meniscus is torn in the outer layer, it may well repair itself as there is some blood supply available to aid the healing process. The inner layers are extremely unlikely to heal alone.
How is it treated?
After a physical examination, an MRI is the best way to diagnose a torn meniscus. If it is suitable the torn meniscus will be repaired using arthroscopic surgery. This is more likely with younger patients as the meniscus cartilage is still strong with a better blood supply. In older patients the meniscus has most likely degenerated and is harder to repair with low chances of the meniscus healing. In more severe cases where the tear is not a suitable candidate for repair, a meniscectomy will be required.
How long will it last?
Some meniscus tears can be managed non-surgically and the symptoms will settle down by themselves. Recovery from a meniscectomy can take up to 6 weeks depending on the extent of the surgery and your overall health going into the operation.
Other knee surgeries and procedures
Total knee replacement approaches
The meniscus is a crescent-shaped band of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber.Read More