Description of a Meniscus Injury

A meniscus injury of the knee is common among both athletes and non-athletes. The knee joint has two menisci—one is on the inside of the knee, known as the medial meniscus, and the other is on the outside, known as the lateral meniscus. In the form of a C-shape, the meniscus is wedged between the femur (thigh bone) and tibial (shinbone) to help maintain balance and stability. In other words, the menisci help distribute the weight of the body appropriately across the knee joint. Without the meniscus, an uneven weight distribution would occur which would lead to overload of the cartilage surfaces.

A meniscus injury can occur by way of tears and strains, some of these injuries are mild and can be treated conservatively, while others are serious and will require surgical intervention. Typically, a torn meniscus is caused by twisting or turning quickly, often with the foot planted while the knee is bent. Meniscus injuries are most commonly seen in soccer, football, basketball and skiing,

When the meniscus is torn the patient may feel a “pop” in the knee. In most cases patients can still walk, and some athletes can continue playing with a torn meniscus. Gradually, the knee will become more stiff and swollen over the course of several hours to days.

Symptoms of a meniscus injury:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness and swelling
  • Catching or locking of the knee
  • Limited range of motion

Treatment for Meniscus Injuries

The exact treatment method will depend on the size, location, and type of tear. The patient’s age, history of injury, and activity level will also determine the treatment method. The outside one-third of the meniscus has a rich blood supply, known as the “red zone”, this portion of the meniscus may heal on its own if the tear is small. The inner two-thirds of the meniscus has a lack of blood supply, known as the “white zone”. This portion of the meniscus cannot heal on its own.

For surgical treatment Dr. LaPrade will use knee arthroscopy to either repair the meniscus or to trim out those portions which cannot be repaired.

The conditions he specializes in are detailed below: