Meniscal damage

Sports, work, stress and injury are not the only causes of damage to the joint surfaces. Rings of cartilage fibre in the knee that look like semilunar discs - known as the menisci - are intended to limit extreme movements of the joint. They are therefore also subjected to severe joint stresses.

The sudden impact of force can lead to the meniscus structures tearing. Chronic excessive strain can also cause damage to the meniscal tissue, however, causing it eventually to tear. In severe cases, torn parts of the meniscus can move into the joint and often cause pain on exertion or even temporary locking of the joint.

The diagnosis is usually established through clinical investigations, sometimes supplemented with a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI).

Simple illustration of meniscal damage

Symptoms

At the moment in which a meniscus tears, sudden and severe pain is felt in the knee. Depending on the severity of the injury, symptoms may be experienced when the joint is stressed or there may be limitation of the normal movement radius. The knee sometimes swells visibly.

Treatment

With meniscal injuries, conservative therapies only rarely yield the desired success. Using arthroscopic surgery it is usually possible to alleviate the problem and restore the joint's function.

The most common procedures include partial removal of the meniscus and meniscus suturing, which we tend to carry out in younger patients. Only a few cases of complex injuries, in which there is also damage to ligaments or tendons, occasionally require open surgery.