The knee is the largest joint in the human body. It is responsible for a number of movements and activities such as walking, running, sitting or squatting. Three bones come together to form the knee joint. i.e. – The thigh bone, shinbone and kneecap. Between the thigh bone and the shin bone lays the meniscus. These are pieces of rubbery cartilage that act as shock absorbers and stabilize the knee joint. Each knee has two menisci.
Meniscus tears are a very common form of knee injury that could happen to anyone. The menisci can tear for a variety of reasons. Sudden movements such as twisting or stopping can cause the thigh and shin bone to grind against each other and pressurize the menisci. Lifting heavy objects and playing sport can also lead to tears. Age-related degeneration and an increase in weight can wear out the menisci over time, increasing the risk of a tear. The menisci are also connected to nearby ligaments. Injury in the ligament could cause injury to the menisci.
When the menisci tear, the surface over which the thigh and shin bone slide, is damaged. This means it is no longer smooth and any movement over this area could cause pain and irritation. Based on the severity of the tear, it could be classified as minor, moderate or severe. A minor or a moderate tear usually solves itself within a couple of weeks. The patient may suffer pain, swelling and stiffness in the knee. When the tear is severe fragments of the torn menisci may move into the joint space and cause the knee to ‘lock’ or ‘pop’. In this case the patient may not be able to straighten his/her leg and the knee may not be able to support the person.
Treatment for a meniscus tear also depends on the location of the damage. The outer one-third of the meniscus is rich in blood supply and a tear in this region may heal on its own. The inner part of the tissue however lacks blood supply and may not heal as easily.
If the tear is classified as minor or moderate, conservative forms of treatment may be used such as pain-relief medication, physical therapy and rest. When the symptoms persist surgery maybe recommended. Surgery may reduce the risk of developing joint problems in the future.
Earlier surgery meant a complete or partial removal of the damaged parts of the meniscus tissue. However, with advances in medical science there is now a method called Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair. This minimally invasive surgery aims to repair the damaged tissue to its original health. With Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair the cartilage may be repaired by suturing or stitching the torn tissue together. In extreme cases the tissue may even be replaced with that from a donor.
Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair surgery is usually suggested in cases where the tissue is in a repairable condition.
Results are better if the surgery is performed within the first few weeks from the time of injury. This procedure is fairly routine and safe.
At Ranka Hospital we see Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair as a blessing for those with Meniscus damage. It is a quick surgery with minimal pain and has a short recovery period.