The menisci (cartilage) in the knee joint sit between the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin). The menisci are integral to knee joint health. Their function includes transmitting loads across the knee joint, providing stability to the knee, shock absorption and joint lubrication and nutrition.
Injuries to a meniscus are usually the result of a high force trauma, but may also follow a low force trauma although this is more likely to happen in a meniscus that already has undergone some degenerative change. During the injury a popping sensation may be felt. Symptoms of a meniscal tear include pain, swelling, inability to fully straighten the knee, loss of movement, locking, catching, the knee giving way and weakness.
Surgical techniques focus on preservation of the cartilage and repair if possible. This is usually done through an arthroscopy – keyhole surgery. Not all meniscal injuries require surgery.
Recovery after the surgery is highly dependent on the specific procedure used. In general if the damaged cartilage is removed the recovery time is quicker than if the cartilage is repaired – healing time for a repair is longer. Physiotherapy is an important part of the post-surgery rehabilitation and is aimed at regaining movement, strength, function, balance and stability.