Sandwiched between the femur bone and the tibia bone in the knee lies a rubbery shock absorbing structure known as the meniscus. There are two menisci in the knee, one on the inside (medial meniscus) and one on the outside (lateral meniscus.) Sometimes these cartilage structures tear and can cause knee pain, clicking, catching or locking in the knee. The menisci can tear from either trauma (twisting injuries, car accidents etc) or simply from a lifetime of use and degeneration. Meniscal tears from traumatic injuries in younger patients (under the age of 35-40) can sometimes be repaired—or sewn back together. As we age, however, much of the blood supply to the meniscus changes and prevents doctors from repairing them effectively. Additionally, many meniscal tears, even in younger patients, cannot be repaired based on the tear pattern and zone of injury. If a symptomatic meniscal tear cannot be repaired, doctors can remove the torn fragments via arthroscopic surgery. People often ask, “If I lose one or both of these shock absorbers in my knee, will my knee begin to wear out– and become arthritic?” The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no.” There are a host of factors that go into making that decision based on such things as: the amount of remaining meniscus after the torn fragments are removed, the alignment of the knee, the age of the patient, the quality of the cartilage on the femur and the tibia, the activity level of the patient– and a host of other factors.
Here at Palm Beach Sportsmedicine, we make every effort to fully educate our patients about their injuries. If a patient decides on meniscal surgery, we take the time to show them, and to explain, their intraoperative photos so that they can better understand both the injury and the treatment. If you or a loved one has knee pain and suspects a meniscal tear, Palm Beach Sportsmedicine can help you better understand your injury. With in-house imaging and MRI, often your diagnosis can be same day. Additionally, our board certified orthopaedic surgeons can walk you through all of your treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical. Call (561) 845-6000