The two menisci (medial and lateral) are two crescent shaped, fibrocartilagenous discs within the knee joint which act to reduce friction during movement. They can be torn through physical activity, and tearing of one or either is a common sports injury, occurring when the knee twists whilst in a flexed position. They can also be damaged through ‘wear and tear’, and older adults may present with this degenerative change. Tears can lead to pain, swelling, and mechanical problems with movement of the knee joint.
Common symptoms are joint pain and swelling, with both exacerbated when the knee is under more pressure, for example when running. On flexing the knee, you may find a ‘clicking’ feeling or sound, which is the meniscal tear catching within the joint. Another symptom may be joint locking and this is experienced as being unable to straighten your leg to its full potential.
The two most common causes for meniscal tears/damage are acute traumatic injury, and degenerative changes as you get older. Acute injury is common in physical sports such as football and rugby, and is much more likely to produce symptoms of joint locking and catching. People older than 40 are more likely to have damaged their meniscus due to the ageing process, and they are more likely to present with pain and swelling alone.
Treatment for meniscal tears follows a non-surgical or surgical path. Conservative treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections and physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee, helping to stabilise the joint and maintain a good range of motion. If the symptoms are severe and/or conservative measures are not sufficient, surgery can be undertaken to repair or completely remove the meniscus. This is done arthroscopically, using an endoscopic camera inserted through small incisions in the knee joint, rather than open surgery.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.