A torn meniscus is a split through the fibres and matrix of the shock absorber of the knee.

 

meniscus shock absorber longitudinal tear of the meniscus football player
The two menisci cushion the space between femur and tibia. A longitudinal tear of the meniscus. Classical pose that may cause meniscus injury - foot planted and body twisted with force.

 

Torn meniscus symptoms

Usually the patient with a torn meniscus remembers an injury that involved a twisting motion, commonly a twist of the body with the foot planted on the ground, like a footballer kicking. There may be an audible noise at the time, and the knee may swell with blood. Once the acute situation settles, the patient my have pain in the joint line and feelings of instability of the knee.

 

Can a meniscus tear heal on its own?

Healing of a tear in the meniscus without surgery will depend upon a number of factors:

blood supply of meniscus - cross section

  • the shape of the tear - radial tears and horizontal cleavage tears heal poorly (if at all)
  • how close the tear is to the inner rim - there is no blood supply in the inner rim. Tears close to the outer rim, where the blood supply is good, heal more efficiently (see cross-section of the meniscus on the right)
  • the size of the tear - large tears may lead to more displacement of the edges, so they cannot heal. A 'bucket-handle' tear may have a displacement of the torn part right to the other side of the rounded condyle

 

Synonyms: 
Meniscal tear
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How the surgeon decides on management.

Types of meniscus tear

Illustrations of the types of tear one might see in the meniscus.

Diagnosis of meniscus injury

How the surgeon decides if the meniscus is torn.

Short overview of how this surgeon decides which meniscal tear to repair

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CLINICAL PUBLICATIONS

Treatment of meniscal tears: An evidence based approach. Mordecai SC, Al-Hadithy N, Ware HE and Gupte CM. World J Orthop. 2014 Jul 18; 5(3): 233–241.

Natural history and clinical significance of meniscal tears over 8 years in a midlife cohort. Khan HI, Aitken D, Ding C, Blizzard L, Pelletier J-P, Martel-Pelletier J, Cicuttini F and Jones G. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016; 17: 4.


See also -

and...


Professor Adrian Wilson examines a patient with a torn medial meniscus.



eBook - Seven Symptoms of a Torn Knee Meniscus


Managing Meniscal Injuries - ebook