Meniscal tears are among the most common knee injury in athletes, especially those involved in contact sports. A suddenly bend or twist in the knee can cause the meniscus to tear. This is a traumatic meniscus tear. Elderly people are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the cartilage wears out and weakens with age. The menisci are two wedge-shape cartilage pieces present between the thighbone and the shinbone. They stabilize the knee joint and act as “shock absorbers”.
A torn meniscus often causes pain, swelling, stiffness, or a catching and locking sensation in your knee making you unable to move your knee through its complete range of motion. Your orthopaedic surgeon will examine your knee, evaluate your symptoms, and obtain your medical history before suggesting a treatment plan. The treatment depends on the type, size and location of tear as well your age and activity level. If the tear is small with damage in only the outer edge of the meniscus, nonsurgical treatment may be sufficient. However, if the symptoms do not resolve with nonsurgical treatment, surgical treatment may be recommended.
Knee arthroscopy is commonly recommended for meniscal tears that do not respond to non-operative treatment. Surgical treatment options include meniscus removal (meniscectomy), meniscus repair, and meniscus replacement. Arthroscopy involves inserting small tube-shaped instruments into your knee to evaluate and remove damaged meniscal cartilage. During meniscectomy, small instruments called shavers or scissors may be used to remove the torn meniscus. In arthroscopic meniscus repair the torn meniscus will be pinned or sutured depending on the extent of tear.
Meniscus replacement or transplantation involves replacement of a torn cartilage with the cartilage obtained from a donor. It is considered as a treatment option to relieve knee pain in patients who have undergone meniscectomy.