What are Meniscal Tears?
A meniscal tear is a tear that occurs in the cartilage of the knee. The meniscus is a small, "C" shaped piece of cartilage in the knee joint. Each knee has two menisci, the medial meniscus on the inner aspect of the knee and the lateral meniscus on the outer aspect of the knee. The medial and lateral menisci act as a cushion between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia). Meniscal tears are one of the most common injuries to the knee joint. They can occur at any age, but are more common in athletes playing contact sports.
Treatment for Meniscal Tears
Initial treatment after the injury usually includes the RICE protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation to control the pain and swelling. Further treatment options will depend upon the type, location, and extent of the tear. Small tears can be treated conservatively with anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy to strengthen muscles around the knee and prevent joint instability. A knee brace may be needed to immobilize your knee. You may need to walk with crutches temporarily to assist in limiting weight bearing.
Meniscal Repair Surgery
If symptoms still persist after conservative treatment, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair the torn meniscus. This procedure repairs the torn meniscus and restores the normal anatomy of the knee. However, this may not be able to treat tears located in an avascularpart of the meniscus that lack a blood supply.
Surgery is performed using arthroscopy where a tiny camera will be inserted through a tiny incision which enables the surgeon to view the inside of your knee on a large screen. Instruments inserted through other tiny incisions are used to carry out the procedure. During meniscus repair, the torn meniscus is either pinned or sutured depending on the extent of tear.