The knee joint is made up of many ligaments and tendons that support the weight and movement of your legs. The lateral meniscus and medial meniscus provides even weight distribution across the knee joint effectively protecting your bones from excessive force and severe arthritis. The meniscus is a tough cartilage that rests in between the thigh bone and shin bone on either side of the knee.
In younger people a meniscus tear most commonly occurs when under weight the knee is twisted forcefully. In adults a meniscus injury is more of a degenerative process; as the cartilage becomes brittle even a minor injury could tear the cartilage.
If you visit your doctor about knee pain, they will almost always consider a meniscus tear as a possible cause. For your own reference, a meniscus tear will cause knee pain, swelling, tenderness on either side of the knee where the menisci are located, limited range of motion, and possibly a locking of the joint.
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 unable to protect your articular cartilage on the surface of the knee joint as much as before.
In the initial stages of a meniscus injury, it is important to reduce the swelling in the area and to control the pain and swelling as much as you can. Cold compression therapy has long been a tried and true treatment for soft tissue injuries. During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your knee area until your pain and inflammation settle.
Small tears may go completely unnoticed and will most likely heal themselves. These tears are often located on the outer edges of your meniscus and have access to a lot of blood supply, which helps them heal quicker This is fine as long as the mild pain and inflammation does not worsen.Other tears will heal with conservative treatments, especially if your knee is stable and doesn’t lock.