What is a meniscus injury?

There are two menisci in the knee, one on the inside part and one on the outside part, and together they act as shock absorbers that contribute to the flexibility and stability of the knee joint. There are three types of meniscus tear, those that are congenital, those caused by trauma such as sports, and degenerative tears caused by overuse.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms can be roughly split between mechanical and inflammatory. A mechanical symptom would be an inability to fully extend and flex the knee without pain, and this pain would in turn cause the inflammatory symptom, a swelling of the knee. Sometimes patients also feel a kind of clicking within the joint.

What are the causes?

A meniscus tear that occurs through trauma during sports, such as football and handball is sudden onset. It can accompany a knee sprain or ACL injury.

How is it diagnosed?

There is no one single test for a meniscus tear, but rather a whole battery of tests. Initially the knee is checked for movement and fluid, and then several tests may be performed to give a more or less reliable diagnosis. This is then confirmed with an x-ray or MRI, in which the meniscus can be clearly seen.

How is it treated?

Treatment varies depending on the type of tear. Degenerative tears usually do not require surgery, only time and physiotherapy. A tear sustained traumatically by an athlete would usually require surgery to repair the lesion in the menisci, followed by rehabilitation.

How can it be prevented?

There is no specific way to prevent meniscus injury, however a reduction in knee sprints and over-flexing of the knee can help reduce the risk.

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