Meniscal tears are the most common knee injury in athletes, especially those involved in contact sports. A sudden bend or twist in your knee can cause the meniscus to tear. This is a traumatic meniscus tear. Older individuals are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the cartilage wears out and weakens with age. The two crescent shaped cartilage structures present between the femur and the tibia are called menisci. They stabilize the knee joint and act as "shock absorbers".
A torn meniscus can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, catching or a locking sensation in your knee making it more difficult to move your knee through its complete range of motion. Your orthopedic surgeon will examine your knee, evaluate your symptoms, and medical history before suggesting a treatment plan. The treatment depends on the type, size and location of tear as well your age and activity level. If the tear is small with damage in only the outer edge of the meniscus, nonsurgical treatment may be sufficient. However, if the symptoms do not resolve with nonsurgical treatment, surgical treatment may be recommended.
Knee arthroscopy is a commonly recommended surgical procedure for meniscal tears. The surgical treatment options include partial meniscal removal (partial meniscectomy), meniscus repair, and meniscus replacement. Surgery can be performed using an arthroscope where a tiny camera will be inserted through a small incision which enables the surgeon to view the inside of your knee on a large screen. During surgery, small instruments called shavers or scissors may be used to remove the torn meniscus. In arthroscopic meniscal repair the torn meniscus will be sutured depending on the extent of the tear.