A meniscus is a moon-shaped section of cartilage that cushions the knee between the top of the shinbone (lower leg bone, or tibia) and the bottom of the thighbone (upper leg bone, or femur). Each knee has two menisci: The lateral meniscus is in your outer knee, and the medial meniscus is in the inner knee.
A torn meniscus is a primary reason for knee pain, because the injured cartilage is no longer providing the full cushiony protection between the bones in the knee joint. A tear can cause the bones to rub against each other, thereby creating inflammation, stiffness, and loss of function.
Let’s talk about the six main types of meniscus tears and how they can each be repaired:
The most common type of tear to the meniscus is a radial tear. This type of tear occurs in the area of the knee that isn’t supplied with blood, so it cannot heal on its own.
Surgery may be required if the tear is severe. In the case of a radial tear, the surgeon will trim away the damaged part of the meniscus.
A horizontal meniscus tear is one of the easiest types of tears to repair in the knee. Rather than removing the portion of the meniscus that is damaged, the surgeon will try to sew together the circumferential fibers of the meniscus back together.
Location is key to meniscus repair. The more vascular sections of the meniscus, close to the outside edge, have a greater potential for healing than do areas that are more centrally located in the knee.
An incomplete or intrasubstance tear may appear normal when the surgeon begins to perform surgery, but the tear is a signal that the meniscus tissue is in the early stages of degenerative changes. However, this injury doesn’t usually pose a problem.
These tears are considered stable injuries, and surgery is not required. The tear can be seen via an MRI scan.
A complex meniscus tear involves several tear patterns, often involving patterns that are signs of radial and horizontal tears. This injury isn’t usually treated with reparative surgery, although the meniscus can be removed.
A flap tear also creates an unusual tear pattern. A patient who has a flap tear may experience a catching sensation in the knee. The flap of the meniscus causes that feeling, and that very small section of tissue can be removed in order to resolve the pain.
Bucket Handle Tear
A bucket handle tear is similar to a horizontal tear, but this type of tear involves a larger portion of the meniscus. The knee becomes stuck, and the torn part of the meniscus blocks the normal motion of the knee. This type of tear often requires urgent surgery in order to restore the ability of the knee to bend.
Knee Surgeons in Central Maryland
Any type of forceful twisting of the knee can cause the meniscus to tear. Athletes frequently incur meniscus tears when playing sports, but simple activities like kneeling awkwardly, lifting a heavy object, or performing squat exercises can cause a tear in the meniscus.
The doctors at the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland are here to repair your knee problems, hip pain, and arthritis issues so you can get back to enjoying life. Call us today at (410) 644-1880 or (855) 4MD-BONE (463-2663) to schedule an appointment. If you prefer, you can also fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you.