In anatomy, a meniscus (from Greek μηνίσκος meniskos, "crescent") is a crescent-shaped fibrocartilaginous structure that, in contrast to articular disks, only partly divides a joint cavity. In humans they are present in the knee, acromioclavicular, sternoclavicular, and temporomandibular joints, as well as the radio-carpal joint; in other organisms they may be present in other joints (e.g. between the forearm bones of birds).
Generally, the term 'meniscus' often refers to the cartilage of the knee, either to the lateral and medial menisci. Both are cartilaginous tissues that provide structural integrity to the knee when it undergoes tension and torsion. The menisci are also known as 'semi-lunar' cartilages — referring to their half-moon "C" shape — a term which has been largely dropped by the medical profession, but which led to the menisci being called knee 'cartilages' by the lay public.
In sports and orthopedics, people will sometimes speak of "torn cartilage" and actually be referring to an injury to one of the menisci. There are two general types of meniscus injuries, acute tears that are often the result of trauma or a sports injury and chronic or wear-and-tear type tears. Acute tears have many different shapes (vertical, horizontal, radial, oblique, complex) and sizes. They are often treated with surgical repair depending upon the patient's age as they rarely heal on their own. Chronic tears are treated symptomatically: physical therapy with or without the addition of injections and anti-inflammatory medications. If the tear causes continued pain, swelling, or knee dysfunction, then the tear can be removed or repaired surgically.
The Unhappy Triad is a set of commonly co-occurring knee injuries which includes injury to the medial meniscus.
Two surgeries of the meniscus are most common. Depending on the type and location of the tear, the patient's age, and physician's preference, injured menisci are usually either repaired or removed, in part or completely (meniscectomy). Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Many studies show the meniscus serves a purpose and therefore doctors will attempt to repair when possible. However, the meniscus has poor blood supply, and, therefore, healing can be difficult. Traditionally it was thought that if there is no chance of healing then it is best to remove the damaged and non-functional meniscus.
Care managers are standing by to answer your calls and find an affordable surgery center near you. Call now or select the Contact Us button below.