The knee contains two c shaped rings or cartilage or menisci on the top of the tibia – one on the inside (medial meniscus) and one on the outside (lateral meniscus). The function of the menisci is to provide stability and cushioning to the knee. Meniscus injury usually occurs as a result of a forceful twist or rotation through the knee, especially when weight is on that leg and the foot is planted.
- There is usually pain, swelling and stiffness of the knee.
- A popping or catching sensation may be present on movement and not uncommonly a blocking of full bend or straightening of the knee.
- Pain with weight bearing activities, especially those which involve twisting or rotation
- The knee may feel unstable and/or buckling may occur, especially after swelling subsides
Ice and anti-inflamatory medication may be useful in reducing swelling and irritation
Cartilage has a relatively poor blood supply and so a relatively poor regenerative capacity. Damage to the hard hyaline cartilage may be repaired with softer fibrocartilage.
Small tears may be managed successfully with a conservative approach – initially consisting of rest, followed by physiotherapy for a guided strengthening program
Larger tears may require arthroscopic surgery. In some cases the tear can be repaired, while in other instances the injured portion of the meniscus is trimmed and removed.