The menisci are C-shaped specialised collagen discs that help protect the knee joint from excess load and stress. The knee joint contains a medial meniscus and a lateral meniscus.
The menisci are under extreme load when the knee is flexed deeply and when the knee is twisted.
It is often in these positions that the menisci can be torn.
Tears of the meniscus can be longitudinal, horizontal, oblique, parrot beak or combined complex tears.
Symptoms and signs
Meniscal tears can cause pain in the inner or outer aspect of the knee, swelling, a click in the knee, the knee giving way and in cases of large tears the knee can be locked in position.
A meniscal tear normally requires an x-ray to exclude a bone fracture and an MRI scan to confirm and identify the nature tear.
Meniscal tears can be acute (occur suddenly) or chronic (in degenerative menisci).
Some meniscal tears may be identified co-incidentally on an MRI scan of the knee for another reason.
If the patient has no signs or symptoms of a meniscal tear then no treatment is required.
If a meniscal tear has been diagnosed and the patient has positive signs or symptoms then the treatment is normally surgical.