The meniscus is the medical term for the cartilage that sits within your knee. Its main function is to act as a shock absorber for the knee joint, cushioning the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). The meniscus protects the end of these bones from rubbing together, which would otherwise cause excess wear and tear. Each knee has two menisci that are ‘C’ shaped and are structured like a wedge which also helps to add stability to the joint.
Symptoms of a meniscal injury
- Pain in the knee
- Popping sensation during the injury
- Difficulty bending and straightening the knee fully
- Tendency for the knee to lock or catch
- Feeling though the knee may give way
If the meniscus is injured it may just become irritated and inflamed or it can develop a tear, through trauma or degenerative changes. A physical examination will help to diagnose your knee pain and determine if your symptoms are related to the meniscus. On occasions, you may require a scan to determine the extent of the damage. If a tear is detected, this can be managed conservatively or surgically and treatment will be determined by factors such as: the type of tear, location of the tear and the size of the tear. The age of the person, level of activity and previous related injuries may also contribute to the management decision.
In most cases meniscal injuries will be conservatively managed. Rest, ice, elevation and pain relief can work well to settle down irritated menisci or small tears. Physiotherapy is then important to help strengthen the knee and provide it with more support, resulting in an overall reduction of stress going through the knee. Rehabilitation will also concentrate on keeping the knee mobile to ensure full range of movement and help you return to normal activities of daily living. Many people who have meniscal injuries get back to playing all types of sports with the right treatment. Here at RU Active Sports Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Centre we provide high quality assessments, diagnosis and treatment of your conditions to help you get back to pre injury levels, achieve your sporting goals and keep you doing what you love!