Sports Knee Injuries
What is the meniscus in the knee and what are they used for?
There are two menisci in each knee, the medial and lateral meniscus.
They are c-shaped pieces of cartilage that function as a cushion or shock absorber between your femur and tibia bones. The menisci also provide some stability to your knee.
How do I know I have torn my meniscus?
Severe twisting injuries to your knee while weight is applied to it may result in a torn meniscus. This leads to knee swelling, pain and stiffness. If it is a large tear, the displaced fragment of meniscus may jam your knee and prevent you from fully straightening or bending your knee (knee locking).
What can I do about it?
While pain and swelling of the knee can be managed by taking anti-inflammatory medication, using knee compressions or ice packs, these are also indications to seek the medical advice of an orthopaedic surgeon.
During the initial consultation, your doctor will take a detailed history from you and conduct a thorough clinical examination, before arranging an X-ray and MRI of your knee. The MRI scan will assess the location and severity of the meniscal injury, as well as exclude other injuries to the knee.
For minor meniscal tears around the periphery, conservative management with rest, time, anti-inflammatory medication, and ice packs may help with the pain and swelling.
Surgery and recovery after meniscal surgery
Meniscal repair surgery is performed through key-hole skin incisions measuring less than 1cm each. The meniscus receives its blood supply from its periphery – as such, simple or linear tears around the periphery have better chances of healing with surgical repair compared to tears on the inner surface of the meniscus.
Tears in the inner surface (white zone) of the meniscus are then trimmed to prevent it from getting bigger.
After surgery, your knee will be protected in a knee brace and your surgeon may restrict how much you bend your knee to allow the meniscus to heal.
Physiotherapy and rehabilitation after surgery are aimed at reducing pain and swelling of the knee, as well as strengthen the quads and hamstrings muscles around the knee, both of which are crucial for you to return to your daily activities or sports.