A meniscal injury of the knee is one of the most common orthopaedic injuries.
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee that cushions the joint, like a shock absorber. It protects the bones from wear and tear and prevents osteoarthritis. A simple twisting injury can cause a meniscal tear. Sometimes, a piece of the shredded cartilage can break loose and catch in the knee joint, causing it to lock.
Meniscal tears can be degenerative or traumatic. Degenerative tears occur as a result of progressive wear in the joint, which usually occurs in middle age. Traumatic tears often occur during sport or while at work lifting heavy loads.
- A popping sensation during the injury
- Pain in the knee
- Difficulty bending and straightening the leg
- A tendency for your knee to lock up
X-rays may be necessary, to rule out broken bones and other problems. You may also need an MRI scan to give a more detailed evaluation of knee cartilage. A meniscal tear that is painful and affects your ability to take part in the activities of daily living may need to be addressed surgically. If so, this can be achieved by arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery.
Meniscal tears that are causing pain, swelling or both are usually treated with a knee arthroscopy (key-hole surgery of the knee).