Common injury of the knee. The meniscus is a flat, horse shoe shaped cartilage that serves as weight bearing cushion and a connection between the femur and the tibia. It keeps the femur and tibia from grinding against each other. Sportsmen who are engaged in contact sports, frequently injure and tear the meniscus by twisting the knee, pivoting, decelerating or cutting. Older people can develop the condition due to natural wear and tear.
Typically, the injury causes a popping" sensation. Inflammation with swelling and severe pain
follows. Without diagnosis and treatment, a fragment of the meniscus may loosen. It can drift into the joint, becoming a “loose body” and causing it to slip, pop or lock. The knee gets stuck usually in the mid position.
Initial treatment of a meniscus tear follows the basic RICE formula: rest, ice, compression and elevation, combined with medications for pain and physical therapy to speed up tissue healing. Small tears on the outer edges can often heal with this regimen. Surgical repair is frequently necessary.
HOW TO PRESERVE A HEALTHY MENISCUS
Strenuous exercise, or prolonged rest are harmful for the knee. The knee cartilage, or
meniscus is a shock absorber that contributes to weight bearing. Steady hydration and
adequate nutrition is crucial for the cartilage to maintain its hydraulic properties and
resilience. Due to poor circulation, meniscus metabolism (nourishment) is carried out in
In non weight bearing, the meniscus like a sponge absorbs nutrients from the joint fluid.
In weight bearing, the meniscus is compressed and squeezes out used, toxic metabolites.
Both standing and prolonged rest should be avoided since stagnating of the toxic, irritating
metabolites and lack of fresh nutrients can destroy the cartilage.
Consequently, the meniscus benefits from the alternating action of compression and
relaxation (weight bearing - non weight bearing). For the meniscus walking is the best
exercise. When standing in place, the weight should be shifted side to side, regularly.
For more information or for an evaluation please call
New York Midtown Orthopedics at 212-758-4688.
Remember: timely diagnosis and treatment may prevent chronic pain, surgery and permanent disability.