The knee contains two menisci which are present in between the femur and the tibia. They are made of cartilage. Depending on their position in the knee they are divided into the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus. The medial meniscus is located medially in the knee and the lateral meniscus laterally. The meniscus is C – shaped and wedge shaped on cross section. The peripheral surface of the menisci has a blood supply while a major central part is avascular. Hence healing of a Torn meniscus does not occur owing to its avascular nature. The menisci are vital for the optimum functioning of the knee joint. It allows equal body weight distribution through both the knee joints. The knee joint consists of three bones the femur, the tibia and the patella. The surfaces of these bones facing the joint are covered with a layer of cartilage. The cartilage is a protective film which prevents the bones from rubbing against each other. The meniscus lies on the cartilage in between the two bones.
Symptoms of a meniscus Tear: Following an injury the patient will complain of intense pain and swelling of the joint. Locking of the joint is also common that means the patient is unable to completely straighten the knee joint, this commonly occurs due to a loose body caused by a torn part of the cartilage. Symptoms of a meniscus tear are knee pain, swelling of the knee joint, clicking within the knee, limited range of motion of the joint, tenderness on palpation.
Causes of meniscus Tear: A tear of the meniscus is most commonly referred to as cartilage tear. The most common causes of a meniscus tear are traumatic injury to the knee joint and degenerative processes. Degeneration of the knee joint like osteoarthritis of the knee joint makes the menisci very susceptible to injury and damage. Injury to the knee when the joint is bent or twisted results in a tear of the meniscus.
Diagnosis of a Meniscus tear: A careful history and physical examination often helps to diagnose a Meniscus Tear. An x-ray may be advised to check the degree of degenerative changes in the joint. An MRI of the knee joint helps to diagnose meniscus tear and diagnose the extent of damage to the knee joint.
Treatment of Meniscus Tear: Treatment of meniscus tears varies widely from one person to another. Not all tears require surgery. Treatment depends on the type of tear, degree of damage, age of the patient, activity levels of the patient, and the response to conservative treatment. Following an acute injury the patient is advised strict bed rest, local ice application often helps to bring down the inflammation and swelling. Certain enzymes which hasten healing may be advised. For pain the patient may be put on NSAID’s. Surgery involves trimming the torn portion of the meniscus, the procedure is called meniscectomy. Meniscus repair and transplant of the meniscus are other surgical methods available for treatment of meniscus Tear.
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