Meniscus And Knee Anatomy
Meniscus knee anatomy is the key to understanding how injuries can affect the knee joint. Meniscus are small C-shaped pieces of cartilage which sit in between the thigh bone (femur) and the knee bone (tibia). The cartilage sitting on the outside is known as the lateral meniscus and the one sitting inside the knee is known as the medial meniscus. The posterior meniscus is just an extension of the medial cartilage. In between the knee joint is fluid which ensures that the meniscus stay lubricated and prevents any friction injury. Both meniscus have a poor blood supply which is easily compromied during knee injury. The function of meniscus is to cushion the joint from any injury. Meniscus tears are quite common in the young athletic population. The meniscus can be injured during any forceful twist or rotation of the thigh while the leg is firmly fixed on the ground. The forceful twisting action can pinch or rip of a piece of cartilage.
Whenever meniscus tear occur the pain is instant and depending on the degree of injury, one may not be able to stand or walk. Most individuals who develop a lateral or posterior meniscus tear will develop knee swelling and complain of an audible noise or click in the knee, or that the knee locks or feels unstable.
Diagnosis of meniscus tears is confirmed with an MRI. In cases where the tear is minor, healing occurs without any sequelae. Standard treatment for the injury is ice packs, rest, and use of pain pills. Once the pain has subsided muscle strengthening exercises are recommended to attain fully recovery.
However, large meniscus tears that continue to cause symptoms or mechanical problems with the knee do require surgery. The surgery is only done when the swelling has subsided and the injury is evaluated. The majority of surgeons will only perform surgery in order to relieve pain and prevent long term stiffness. The other thing about surgery for meniscus is that every effort is made by the surgeon to preserve cartilage tissue. The meniscus are valuable for providing cushioning support to the joint. If large amount of meniscus are removed, the individual will soon develop rapid wear and tear of the joint leading to early arthritis.
Today, video assisted arthroscopic surgery is the gold standard for repairing these injuries. A small camera is inserted into the knee joint and the torn piece are removed and normal meniscus are preserved. Sometimes sutures are used to tack down loose or floating pieces of cartilage.
The surgery is simple but the results are not always guaranteed. The reason is that cartilage has very poor blood supply and usually heals poorly. Lateral meniscus tears do heal well because the blood supply is adequate but injuries to the medial meniscus generally have a limited blood supply and do poor. After surgery, most individuals undergo rehabilitation to help regain strength and power of the knee. Knowledge about the meniscus knee anatomy is important for the surgeon in order to reduce unwanted complications.