Reasons for Meniscus Tear and Surgery

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is a Meniscus?

The meniscus is a crescent shaped cartilage structure that is present in the knee of the human anatomy and provides a certain structural integrity to the knee when it is under tension or torsion. The human leg features a 'shock absorber' on each side of it with one being called the medial meniscus and the other known as the lateral meniscus. Their primary function is to center the knee joint during any physical activity and reduce the amount of stress that is applied on the articular cartilage. The combination of the articular cartilage and the menisci produces a gliding surface with almost no friction.

Reasons for Meniscus Tear

A meniscus tear is a very common injury, especially for sportsmen and other individuals in professions that require a significant amount of stress being applied on the joints in their feet. Any person who is experiencing significant knee pain is likely to be diagnosed for a possible meniscus tear. The two most common medical methods of diagnosis are X-rays and MRI scans. The major benefit of an MRI scan is that it allows you to see a visual representation of the meniscus while the x-ray can help you determine if there is any evidence of degenerative or arthritic changes to the knee joint. It is important to note that not all medial meniscus repairs require surgery. This would depend significantly on a number of other factors including the type of injury, activity level of the concerned patient as well as the response of the body to certain treatments.

Meniscus Repair Surgery

When treating a meniscus tear, one must first identify if meniscus repair surgery is required. Most of the meniscal tears, especially chronic ones, can be treated without a surgery. The non surgical treatment options include, strengthening exercises, anti inflammatory injections and physical therapy. Meniscus repair surgery is more often required when symptoms like the locking of the knee, the inability to fully straighten the knee joint or even a popping or clicking sound is heard whenever you move the knee joint. The success of meniscus repair surgery depends largely on two factors. The first factor is if the meniscus repair is attempted on a tear in the central portion of the cartilage, as a result of the comparatively poor blood supply in this region. The second factor is the dependence on how compliant the patient is with the post operative care and rehabilitation. In about 20 to 40% of the cases, a second surgery is required to remove re-torn meniscus.