Meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries. That’s because an athlete, an older person and anyone in between can tear a meniscus.
They can be torn in different ways. Tears are described by how they look as well as where the tear occurs. Common tears include bucket handle, flap and radial. Sports related tears often include more than just the meniscus (such as an anterior cruciate ligament tear).
A meniscus tear is diagnosed by obtaining a medical history, discussing symptoms, and examination of the knee. One of the main tests for meniscus tears is the McMurray test. The doctor bends the knee, straightens it and then rotates it. This puts tension on a torn meniscus and will cause a clicking sound. Imaging tests, such as x-ray or MRI may be ordered as well.
Treatment depends on the type of tear, size and location. The outside one-third of the meniscus has a rich blood supply which may allow it to heal on its own. The inner two-thirds of the meniscus lacks a blood supply which does not allow it to heal. These are complex tears which often occur in thin, worn cartilage. These types of tears usually require surgery.
Without treatment a piece of meniscus may come loose and drift into the joint. This can cause the knee to slip, pop or lock.
Since meniscus tears are extremely common knee injuries, proper diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation often returns patients to their pre-injury abilities.
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