A specialised piece of cartilage
Your knee has two pieces of rubbery C-shaped cartilage known as the meniscus. They sit on opposite sides of your knee and act as a shock absorber between your shin bone (tibia) and your thigh bone (femur). It is also one of the most commonly injured parts of the knee.
“The meniscus in your knee is responsible for protecting the bones from being worn down over time. However, something as simple as twisting your knee the wrong way can cause your meniscus to tear,” says Dr Rhys Clark.
What does it feel like?
Damage to your meniscus can be mild, or it can be a contributing factor in a larger knee injury. Pain is typically localised to one side of the knee and the amount of pain you experience will vary, depending on the type of the tear. A torn meniscus can often feel like your knee is catching or is going to give way.
“My patients often come in with swollen and stiff knees post injury. Depending on the type of tear you have, your symptoms may last a few days, or they may not settle down at all.”
Deciding on treatment
Discussions with your doctor and a physical examination of your knee will help determine the level of damage to your meniscus. If your symptoms and pain are not improving, an MRI scan may be required. Your treatment plan will be dependent on the location, the type of tear, and your symptoms.
The good news is that not all meniscus tears are treated surgically. There are a range of non-surgical options if you are only experiencing minor symptoms. However, most meniscus tears cannot heal on their own. Certain types of tears – like those that stop you from straightening your knee – will require surgery. A knee arthroscopy may be needed to take a closer look at your knee and to potentially repair or remove any damage.
“Any injury to your knee can really limit your freedom of movement. Tailoring a treatment plan specific to your injury means you can get back to doing the things you enjoy.”