It seems the four major ligaments of the knee always get the most press. There’s the posterior cruciate (PCL) and the lateral collateral ligaments (LCL). And most people know someone who has experienced an injury to the anterior cruciate (ACL) or the medial collateral ligaments (MCL).
But what about the short coronary ligaments that attach the tibia to the knees’ menisci? They may not be as large or as prominent, but they still play an important role in the overall anatomy of the knee joint because they support two, behind the scenes players - the medial and lateral menisci. It isn’t until an injury occurs and meniscus tear treatment becomes necessary that most people ever consider the value of these two small parts.
These crescent-shaped pieces of rubbery fibrocartilage sit right on the tibia and cushion it from the impact of the femur during movement. The important roles of the menisci include:
Shock absorption during movement that would otherwise result in pain
Provision of joint stability by acting as a “cup” for the femur to rest in
Lubrication of the knee joint in critical places
Transfer of force across the joint and assistance in weight bearing
Determining the Best Option for Meniscus Tear Treatment
If you have sustained an injury to one of your menisci, you will most likely be met with the symptoms of pain, swelling, stiffness and possibly joint locking. Patients often describe a popping sensation and sound upon injury and then a “catching” in their knee afterwards.
A physician can confirm your diagnosis through a physical exam and MRI. X-rays will not reveal meniscal damage because, unlike bones, these small wedges do not contain calcium. If you’ve received a meniscal tear diagnosis and as you are researching your options for meniscus tear treatment, you’ll find that there are two major factors that determine if and how repair is possible.
The type of tear: An acute meniscal tear occurs while the knee is in a weight bearing position and is often associated with a quick twisting motion or impact during a contact sport or due to a fall. On the other hand, some injuries to the menisci occur degeneratively, meaning that general wear and tear simply associated with age can result in slow tearing. These types of meniscus tears are sometimes accompanied by symptoms and in other cases, they are asymptomatic.
The location and severity of the tear:. Meniscus tear treatment is also determined by whether the tear is complete or incomplete as well as whether it has occurred in the outer thirds of the band (which has the greatest blood flow with the best chance of healing) or in the inner third (usually requires surgery).
At Rothman Institute, an orthopedic specialist, will review your specific case and consider your age, weight, overall health and activity level. The doctor will then assess the severity of the tear and the amount of blood flow in the area.
Once these things are assessed, proper meniscus tear treatment can be decided. If surgery is needed, it is performed arthroscopically by either cutting away the damaged area of the cartilage or by repairing the tear.