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Meniscal Tear


The menisci are two wedge-shaped cartilage pieces present between the thighbone or femur and the shin bone or tibia. They function as knee stabilisers and as “shock absorbers”, decreasing the contact between the femur and tibia. Meniscal tears are one of the common knee injuries in athletes, especially those involved in contact sports. A sudden bend or twist of the knee can cause a traumatic tear to the meniscus. Elderly people are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the cartilage wears out and weakens with age.

When a meniscus tears, the knee swells within the next 24 hours. This causes pain, stiffness and a catching or locking sensation in your knee, making you unable to move your knee through its complete range of motion.

To perform the right diagnosis, the doctor will gather a detailed medical history and examine your knee, before suggesting a plan. X-rays and an MRI scan will be requested to further assess the knee.
The treatment depends on the type, size and location of the tear, as well as your age and activity level. If the tear is small with damage to only the outer edge of the meniscus, nonsurgical treatment may be sufficient. However, if the symptoms do not resolve with non-surgical treatment, surgical treatment may be recommended.
Usually, a course of rest and physiotherapy with a strengthening programme is sufficient. This is particularly useful in non-traumatic meniscal tears. Analgesics and anti-inflammatories will be prescribed.
Surgical Treatment
Knee arthroscopy or keyhole surgery is the commonly recommended surgical procedure for meniscal tears. The surgical treatment options include meniscus removal (meniscectomy), meniscus repair and meniscus transplant. Surgery is performed by arthroscopic means, where a tiny camera is inserted through a tiny incision, which enables the surgeon to view inside the knee on a large screen. Other tiny incisions are made, and through these, the surgery is performed. After the operation, the instruments are removed, and the cuts are closed and covered with a bandage.
  • Meniscectomy: small instruments will be used to remove the torn part of the meniscus
  • Meniscal repair: the torn meniscus will be sutured
  • Meniscus transplant: involves replacement of the torn meniscus with a meniscus obtained from a donor (this is a very complex surgery only offered in particular cases)