Meniscus Tears

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Knee painWhat is a meniscus tear?
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the middle of the knee. Cartilage is tough, smooth, rubbery tissue that lines and cushions the surface of the joints. There is a meniscus on the inner side of the knee (the medial meniscus) and outer side of the knee (the lateral meniscus). Each meniscus attaches to the top of the shinbone (tibia), makes contact with the thighbone (femur), and acts as a shock absorber during weight-bearing activities. A meniscal tear can occur when the knee is forcefully twisted or sometimes with minimal or no trauma, such as with squatting. Symptoms of a meniscus tear include knee pain, locking, catching, and limited range of motion. In acute cases, there may also be evidence of a knee effusion, or fluid in the knee joint.

A meniscus tear may be partial or full thickness and may be simple, complex, or displaced. Radiographs are taken in clinic to rule out any associated bony injuries, however, a meniscus tear will not show up on x-ray. Based on the patients’ history and clinical exam, an MRI may be obtained to assess the soft tissue structures of the knee. Meniscus tears may be treated conservatively or surgically. This is determined by the patient’s symptoms and associated MRI findings. Conservative management includes activity modification, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections. If the MRI confirms a complex or displaced meniscus tear with symptoms such as locking, catching, instability, or giving way, a surgical consult will be recommended. Our list of surgical referrals is based on an extensive history of positive patient experiences and excellent patient outcomes.