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Meniscus – Torn Yours?

I don’t need a whole lots of
money, I don’t need a big, fine car. I got everything that a man could want, I
got more than I could ask for.”

Grand Funk

In other
words, my knees work just fine, thank you.

The meniscus is an
important structure in your knee. Menisci, actually as we have two in each knee,
an inside (medial) one and an outside (lateral) one. They are “C” shaped bits of
fibrocartilage also known as semi-lunar cartilages which serve many functions.
This is important as it wasn’t that many years ago that surgeons felt the
meniscus to have no purpose and excised them at will, especially in the
pre-arthroscopy days. Some of you no doubt can remember that HS athletic injury
by looking at the sizable scar on your knee from your open menisectomy

It’s currently felt that the meniscus aids in the lubrication
of the joint, stress transfer from femur to tibia, and that it contributes to
the stability of the knee. Unless injured, the meniscus will provide a lifetime
of service to it’s owner with out complaint. That said, through injury,
arthritis or just plain bad luck, any among us may suffer a “torn knee
cartilage.” As was true for both Tom Brady and Tiger Woods, the tear can
accompany injury to one or more major ligaments. Usually bad news.

Frequently, the injured triathlete will have a physical exam, x-rays
and/or an MRI with subsequent arthroscopy to remove or repair the damaged
meniscus. (In highly selected cases, a meniscus transplant may be considered
when more traditional methods have failed.) The arthroscopy is done in the
sterile environment of the operating room under a variety of types of anesthesia
– most of my patients watched theirs on the TV at bedside! The scope is
introduced through two 1/4″ punctures which rarely even need stitches at the
end. Oftentimes the procedure is completed in under an hour, there are no
crutches, and rehab exercises begin in the recovery room.

The surgeon
who’s seen the inside of your knee is likely in the best position to determine
your return to sport, possible limitations, etc.

Take good care of your
menisci, they should last a while!

John Post, MD
Image 1 from Google images