Your menisci are semicircular pads of cartilage that are between your femur ( thigh bone ) and tibia ( leg bone ). Each knee has a medial and a lateral meniscus. Think of the menisci as gaskets in the knee. They function as shock absorbers and load distributors in the knee. Tears of the menisci are of the most common ailments in the knee. Tears can occur as a result of an injury, but can also tear with simple daily tasks like kneeling and squatting. Symptoms can include pain along the back or sides of the knee, catching, popping, swelling, feelings of give way, and locking. Pain is often worse with twisting and squatting.
The diagnosis is usually made by history and examination. An MRI is often recommended to, not only confirm the diagnosis, but to also assess for other pathology in the knee.
Treatment usually consists of a trial of conservative management, including activity modifications, anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications, ice, crutches/cane, and physical therapy. The blood supply to the menisci is not great and as such, tears do not have a high likelihood of healing without intervention. When symptoms persist and continue to adversely affect function and quality of life, surgical intervention can be considered. A knee arthroscopy with meniscus repair or partial meniscus resection ( meniscectomy ) is performed based on the tear pattern and tear location.
Watch a video of a knee arthroscopy with partial meniscus resection
Watch a video of a knee arthroscopy with meniscus repair
Meniscus deficiency can lead to chronic pain and swelling. For patients that meet indications, a meniscus transplantation can be performed to help improve function and symptoms.
Watch a video of a knee arthroscopy with meniscus transplantation