What is a Meniscus?
Each knee joint has a medial and lateral meniscus, two large C-shaped cartilages that separate the femur (thigh bone) from the tibia (shin bone). Each knee meniscus acts like a wedge to assist with stability at the knee joint (particularly with rotational movement). They also act as shock absorbers (while walking, running, and jumping), thereby protecting the bone surfaces.
What is a Meniscal Tear?
A meniscal tear is one of the most common cartilage injuries that occurs at the knee and is therefore a common source of knee pain. Such injuries can occur due to trauma and/or age.
A traumatic tear is often a result of a sporting injury and is more common in a younger person.
In the older adult, tears may occur due to age-related degeneration of the meniscus.
Signs and symptoms of meniscal tears may include:
- Stiffness/inability to move the knee through its normal range
- Swelling around the knee
- A catching or a locking of the knee
- Feeling the knee ‘give way’
Your Physiotherapist will perform a physical examination including a series of knee tests, which will help to identify if there is damage to the meniscus and whether it is a likely source of your pain. An MRI may be used to confirm this however is often not required.
So…Your Meniscus is Torn. Do you need surgery?
Often the answer here is no, or at least not as a first line of treatment.
A recent study showed that on average, patients who had meniscus surgery didn’t have a better outcome than those who had Physiotherapy alone. It is important to discuss your symptoms and history with your Physiotherapist to know which management path is right for you. The Physiotherapists at Bend + Mend in Sydney’s CBD can assess your knee injury and start early conservative treatment for meniscal tears.