Table of Contents
- Torn meniscus facts
- Introduction to the knee
- What is a torn meniscus?
- What causes a meniscus to tear?
- What are symptoms and signs of a torn meniscus?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose a meniscus tear?
- What types of doctors treat a torn meniscus?
- What is the treatment for a torn meniscus?
- Can a meniscus tear heal without surgery?
- What is rehabilitation and recovery like for a patient with a meniscus tear?
- What are recommended exercises once a torn meniscus has been repaired?
- What is the prognosis of a torn meniscus? Is it possible to prevent a torn meniscus?
What is a torn meniscus?
A torn meniscus is damage from a tear in the cartilage that is positioned on top of the tibia and allows the femur to glide when the knee joint moves. Tears are usually described by where they are located anatomically in the C shape and by their appearance (for example, "bucket handle" tear, longitudinal, parrot beak, and transverse). While physical examination may predict whether it is the medial or lateral meniscus that is damaged, a diagnostic procedure, like an MRI or knee arthroscopy, can locate the specific part of the cartilage anatomy that is torn and its appearance.
Because the blood supply is different to each part of the meniscus, knowing where the tear is located may help decide how easily an injury might heal (with or without surgery). The better the blood supply, the better the potential for recovery. The outside rim of cartilage has better blood supply than the central part of the "C." Blood supply to knee cartilage also decreases with age, and up to 20% of normal blood supply is lost by age 40.
Dutton, M. Dutton's Orthopedic Examination, Evaluation and Intervention, 3rd edition. McGraw Hill Medical, 2012.
Johnson, D.H., and D.A. Pedowitz. Practical Orthopedic Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007.
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