The Meniscus Of The Knee Joint

The Meniscus Of The Knee Joint

What Is The Meniscus Of The Knee

The meniscus of the knee is a fibrocartilage structure, with each knee having two fibrocartilage menisci. Each anchored to the tibial plateau side of the joint, the top part of the lower leg bone acting as a cushion between the femoral condyle and the tibia plateau. As mentioned, each knee has two menisci and these are crescent-shaped discs, referred to as the medial and lateral meniscus should it be positioned on the inside and outside of the knee respectively helping cushion both sides of the joint.

The primary blood supply of the menisci is limited to its periphery, with no direct source to the “inner core” of the meniscus lying deep inside the joint. This limited blood supply is of significance with regard to injury, degeneration and subsequently healing. Seeing as the central portion of the tissue lacks any direct blood source it is unable undergo a normal healing process, as a result injury here can frequently pose more of a challenge and generally, they type of meniscal injury we see at out Randwick Physio practice that is more likely to end up going “under the knife”. Injury involving the peripheral portion of the meniscus is capable of undergoing some form of healing and therefore more likely to “respond” to appropriate rehabilitation. At the Movement Centre our physio team have assisted numerous of our patients through their rehabilitation following meniscal irritation, injury and post-surgical management.

What Is The Function Of The Meniscus Of The Knee

The main function of the meniscus of the knee is to operate as a shock absorber for the joint. Helping to absorb and disperse forces applied to the knee, through preventing the load placed on the knee concentrating onto a small area. Which reduces the load going directly on the articular cartilage ultimately preserving the quality and prolonging the life of the articular cartilage in the knee.

As well as this important shock absorption role the meniscus in the knee is also considered to assist in increasing the rotational stability of the knee and some more recent studies have suggested that the meniscus of the knee also has an important role in neuromuscular control of the knee joint. Where injury to the meniscus can impact an individual’s postural control.

What Is A Meniscus Tear?

A meniscus tear is among one of the most common sporting injuries to the knee that we see at the Movement Centre and our physio team regularly treat patients suffering some variation of meniscal complaint. There are two main types of meniscal tears, one being a traumatic tear and the other being degenerative meniscal complaints. Regardless of any meniscal injury being degenerative verses traumatic, meniscal injury can cause a variety of symptoms and sensations including locking or a catching sensation in the knee, movement limitations, as well as create feelings of pain and instability…
  • Traumatic meniscal tears are normally the domain of the younger athlete and individual, often the result of a twisting action performed on a slightly flexed knee when fully weight bearing. These injuries are typically injuries occurring as a result of a significant force applied to an otherwise healthily meniscus. Common in sports involving high speed pivoting, cutting and changing of direction including the footballing codes, netball and basketball…
  • Meniscal tears may also be the result of less violent actions when forces are applied to the “degenerative knee”. Load and age-related degeneration of the meniscus can lead to less “dramatic” tears that cannot always be relayed back to a specific incident or trauma. One of suggested triggers for “degrading” a meniscus is it resulting from the rougher surface of an arthritic femoral bone grinding into the softer menisci structure over time causing a tear as can occur in an osteoarthritic knee. These and other degenerative meniscal complaints often have a slower origin of symptoms than traumatic tears occurring in a healthy meniscus and frequently the individual has a history of prior significant injury in the years prior and or evidence of more widespread degenerative change throughout the knee joint.
At the Movement Centre our physio team have vast experience treating patients with both traumatic and degenerative meniscal complains. Assisting patients looking to return to function and avoid surgery, as well as patients having undergone surgery wanting to get back to their best following a meniscal repair or “clean up”.
Disclaimer: The Movement Centre provides this information as an educational service. The information contained on this website and in this blog is not intended to serve as or replace actual medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance should consult their local Randwick Physio, general practitioner, medical specialist, or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.