The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of tough, rubbery fibrocartilage located in the knee. It plays
a crucial role in distributing stress across the knee joint during weight-bearing activities,
acting as a shock absorber between the shinbone (tibia) and the thigh bone (femur).
In each knee, you have two menisci. One, known as the medial meniscus, is located on the inner side of your knee, and the other, known as the lateral meniscus, is on the outer side. These menisci work together to enhance the stability of the knee joint, helping to balance your weight evenly across the knee and providing a smooth surface for the bones to move on.
While the menisci are durable and resilient, they can be damaged or torn; resulting in pain and limited mobility.
A meniscus tear is a common knee injury, particularly among athletes and older adults. This occurs
when the tough, rubbery fibrocartilage (the meniscus) that cushions and stabilises the knee
joint, becomes damaged or torn. Meniscus tears can be caused by direct impact or torque to the
knee, particularly when it is bent or twisted. In athletes, this can happen during contact
sports or activities requiring sudden turns or pivots.
However, meniscus tears are not solely limited to athletes or those engaged in physically demanding activities. For older adults, age-related wear and tear significantly contributes to the likelihood of experiencing a meniscus tear. As we age, our cartilage weakens and thins out, making the meniscus more susceptible to tearing, even from minor injuries or everyday movements.
A meniscus tear is characterised by pain, stiffness, and a popping sensation at the time of injury. However, the severity and nature of symptoms can vary depending on the severity and location of the tear.
Common symptoms include:
It is important to note that not all meniscus tears are evident immediately after the injury. In some cases, symptoms may only manifest several days later.
If a torn meniscus is not promptly treated, it can cause persistent knee pain, changes in gait,
and knee instability. The meniscus plays a critical role in stabilising the knee joint, and
damage to this cartilage can lead to a sense of the knee giving way during weight-bearing
An untreated torn meniscus can also increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the affected knee over time. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down, leading to joint pain and stiffness.
In other cases, an untreated meniscus tear can also result in a locked knee as pieces of the torn meniscus can move into the joint space. A locked knee renders one unable to fully straighten the knee, or experience a substantially reduced range of motion.
Meniscus tear treatments range from conservative treatments to surgical interventions, depending on the severity and type of tear, the patient's overall health, and their activity level.
The treatment for knee cartilage injuries will depend on the severity of the injury, and range from conservative treatments to surgical interventions.
Non-surgical Treatments for Meniscus Tears
In mild cases, or initially, doctors may recommend conservative treatments such as:
Surgical Treatments for Meniscus Tears
If conservative treatments do not prove effective, surgery will be considered. This includes:
Most patients can expect to recover daily function within six weeks to six months post-surgery. This will depend on the patient’s age, activity level, severity of injury, type of surgery performed, and proper adherence to rehabilitation.
While it is not always possible to prevent injuries like a meniscus tear, certain measures can reduce the risk of developing them:
While mild meniscus tears can sometimes heal with time, complex or large tears typically require medical intervention. It is recommended to visit a meniscus specialist to determine the best course of treatment as early as possible.
The Bone and Joint Centre offers personalised and effective meniscus tear treatment in Singapore. Contact us at 9898 7781 today to schedule an appointment..
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