A meniscus is a type of tough, C-shaped disc of cartilage found in the knee joint that cushions the knee.
There are two menisci in your knee—the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus.
The medial meniscus is located on the inside of the knee, and the lateral meniscus is located on the outer side of the knee.
The meniscus helps distribute body weight across the knee joints and take uneven pressure off of certain bones in the leg.
A meniscus tear can be quite serious and is most often caused by traumatic injury but can also stem from degenerative conditions or natural aging.
A meniscus tear can range from minor to severe, and treatment greatly depends on the level of severity, location of the tear, and activity level.
Symptoms of a meniscus tear
Small tears include:
-Pain with lifting, squatting, or rising from a seated position
Moderate tears include:
-Pain on the side or center of knee
-Swelling that may increase gradually after injury
-Stiffness in knee joint
-Limited range of motion
Severe tears include:
-Significant amount of pain
-Immediate swelling and stiffness in knee joint
-Feeling of popping or catching in the knee
-Instability in knee
-Difficulty placing weight on knee
Meniscectomy for moderate and severe tears
Orthopedic surgeons often perform meniscus surgery with arthoscopy, which involves a thin tube called an arthroscope that contains a camera and light.
The arthroscope is inserted into a small incision near the joint.
Surgical instruments are then inserted through other small incisions around the joint.
During surgery, unstable meniscus fragments are removed and the remaining meniscus edges are smoothed over.
Surgeons try to preserve as much of the meniscus tissue as possible, especially if the patient is young and active.