What Is The Knee Meniscus?

What Is The Knee Meniscus?

The Anatomy Of Your Knee Meniscus

Your knee meniscus is a fibrocartilage structure that is commonly referred to by some as your “cartilage.” As often heard in sporting news reports “… has injured their knee and has been diagnosed as suffering a cartilage injury and we are hoping they will be able to return to play in around 6-12 weeks…”. The menisci of which there are two in each knee, are situated as the cushion between the femoral condyles and the tibia plateau, specifically being anchored to the tibial plateau side of the joint. As previously mentioned there are two menisci in each knee with each knee having a crescent-shaped medial and lateral meniscus. The menisci are typically avascular structures (meaning they have no direct blood supply),  each of the menisci have its primary blood supply limited to the periphery with no direct source to the inner core of the meniscus sitting deeper inside the knee. This limited blood supply is of significance regarding injury to the meniscus, seeing as if the central portion is damaged or impacted through injury then the menisci is usually UNABLE to undergo a normal healing process, whereas injury to the peripheral portion of the meniscus which as mentioned has limited blood supply is therefore more likely to undergo some form of healing.

Function Of The Knee Meniscus

The main functions of the knee menisci are their role as a shock absorber in the knee and assist in increasing the rotational stability of the knee. With activities of daily living, as well as sporting activities your knee has to absorb significant forces the menisci in the knee help to absorb and disperse these forces ultimately reducing the load going directly on the articular cartilage and bone surfaces prolonging the quality and life of the articular cartilage. Injury to the knee meniscus may cause sensations of catching or locking in the knee, movement limitations, feelings of instability, cause pain and ultimately cause altered biomechanics of the knee and the lower limb as a whole.

What Is A Meniscus Tear?

A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries suffered playing sport and at Sydney Physio Clinic we regularly see and treat patients having suffered some variation of knee meniscus complaint. There are two main types of meniscal tears, traumatic and degenerative:

  • Traumatic meniscal tears are normally the domain of the younger individual and are often the result of twisting on a slightly flexed knee in full weight bearing. These types of meniscal tears are typically sports-related, occurring most commonly in sports that demand a high volume of pivoting as well as cutting and changing of direction movements.
  • In somewhat older individuals, meniscal tears may be due to age-related degeneration of the meniscus, or the product of the rough surface of an arthritic femoral bone grinding into the softer menisci structure causing the tear. These tears are often less “dramatic” in their onset. Not always related to a particular trauma and may have a slower onset of symptoms than the traumatic tear in what was an otherwise young healthy menisci

Our physios have vast experience in working with patients trying to avoid surgery, as well as those who have already undergone surgery be it post surgical repair rehab or getting someone back to their best following a meniscal “tidy up”.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance regarding What Is The Knee Meniscus? should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner, sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist.