What is a meniscus?
A meniscus is a cartilaginous structure, found in the knee. It sits on top of the shin (tibia), and beneath the thigh bone (femur). It’s primary role is to act as a shock absorber when weight bearing and external forces are going through the knee joint. It also assists the knee joint in bending/straightening smoothly, without friction.
How can it be injured?
A meniscus can be injured from excessive force being put on the knee joint when combined with a rotational force. This type of injury is commonly seen in sporting incidents, however can also occur with everyday tasks such as lifting objects whilst twisting, or getting out of a car.
Having pre-existing conditions such as osteoarthritis can further increase your risk of obtaining a meniscus injury.
How can I tell I’ve got a meniscus injury?
Meniscus injuries vary in severity. They can be simple linear tears, or complex flap tears. The symptoms you may experience depend on the severity and location of the tear. Some common symptoms experienced with meniscus tears include;
- inability to fully bend or straighten the knee
- catching/locking of the knee joint
- popping/clunking of the knee joint during bending
What should I do if I think I’ve injured my meniscus?
The first point of call would be to have it physically examined by a qualified practitioner. This will include assessment of your functional movements, and range of motion, as well as specific structural assessment to rule in or out any injuries to the meniscus. Imaging may be required to confirm the diagnosis, however early imaging can often be unnecessary.
Depending on the physical status, and how well someone is coping, management with medication and physical rehabilitation can be adequate management to rehabilitate the injury. When the severity is higher, or there is failed response to conservative intervention, injections or surgical intervention may be required, and your GP can arrange a consultation with an orthopedic specialist.