A meniscus injury is one of the most common knee injuries. Menisci tend to get injured during movements that forcefully twist your knee while bearing weight (this is very prevalent in younger populations) or they tend to grow weaker with age, and tear as a result of minor injuries or movements. When your meniscus is damaged and/or torn, it starts to move abnormally inside the joint, which can cause it to become caught between the bones of the joint (femur and tibia). Your knee then becomes swollen, painful and difficult to move. These injuries can be difficult to heal because blood supply (which helps your body heal itself) is often limited to the outside edge of the menisci.
Once you have a meniscus tear, you have an increased risk of developing knee arthritis, because these shock absorbers are weakened. They slowly wear away with knee movements and are not able to protect your articular cartilage on the surface of the knee joint as much as before.
In the USA, 61 of 100,000 people experience an acute tear of the meniscus at some point in their life (850,000 meniscus surgeries are performed in the USA each year, estimates indicate that at least twice this number of meniscus procedures are performed internationally). Health professionals used to believe the meniscus had no function and removed it if injured, however we now know it plays an integral role in knee joint mechanics and function.
Alternate names and/or related conditions:
Cartilage Tear, medial meniscus tear, lateral meniscus tear, acute meniscal tears, meniscus tear, meniscal injury, knee injury, discoid meniscus, torn knee cartilage, cruciate ligament tears, collateral ligament tears, knee dislocations, meniscal cysts, osteochondritis dissecans.