Meniscus tear / meniscus rupture

A quite common injury is meniscus tear that can emerge in both menisci, the lateral meniscus and the medial meniscus. A meniscus is a buffer as well as a stabilizer of the knee protecting the sensitive cartilage of the knee. If a meniscus tears, parts of it can intrude the joint and cause a stinging pain. Over a long period, it may also cause cartilage damage.

Symptoms meniscus tear / meniscus rupture

There are various symptoms of a meniscus tear. The symptoms range from strong pain in case of an acute tear of the meniscus or slight pain in case of long-term wear and tear. The acute meniscus rupture can also cause a big swelling of the knee with stinging pain. Many people also complain about knee instability. The range of motion is often restricted and accompanied by a reduced performance.

Symptoms of meniscus tear in short:

  • stinging pain from slight to severe
  • swelling of the knee (acute meniscal tear)
  • restricted range of motion
  • reduced performance of the knee
  • knee instability

Causes meniscus tear / meniscus rupture

There are different causes of meniscus tear. Generally, we differentiate between meniscus ruptures that occur due to a sudden force and meniscus ruptures due to long-term strain. The likelihood of both is equal.
If a meniscus tears because of long-term strain, persons straining their knees during work are mostly affected. Examples are mountaineers, football, soccer or tennis players, gardeners, etc.
Meniscus tear due to a sudden force can happen if the leg is suddenly stretched, bended or twisted during an accident or also during sports activities like soccer or football.
A comparably small amount of persons have a congenital malformation of the meniscus that increases the risk of meniscal tear.

Diagnostics meniscus tear / meniscus rupture

In case of an assumed meniscus tear, a comprehensive orthopedic examination is carried out often accompanied by imaging procedures like MRI or X-raying. Especially the MRI examination of the knee helps differentiate the different knee injuries that may cause similar or the same symptoms.

The knee MRI enables us, for example, to find out if there is a complex tear of a meniscus, a radial, bucket-handle, peripheral, horizontal or flap tear, if the meniscus has multiple tears, if parts of it are split-off, and if there are other knee injuries.

In some cases, it may be necessary to perform a knee arthroscopy, during which an endoscope is inserted through small incisions to visualize the different structures of the shoulder enlarged. If indicated, a subsequent arthroscopic surgery is possible directly after the examination.

All examinations can be carried out at Beta Klinik. Read more about our diagnostics

Therapy meniscus tear / meniscus rupture

The treatment of a meniscus tear is subject to its extent and to the damage of adjacent knee structures. Given only a minor damage of the meniscus, conservative therapy with painkilling and anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy and strengthening of leg muscles as well as temporary immobilization can help. The majority of meniscus ruptures has to be operated arthroscopically.

During minimally invasive knee arthroscopy, an endoscope is inserted through small skin incisions. With the help of the endoscope, the surgeon is able to see the damaged knee structures enlarged at a monitor. In addition to that, surgeons are also able to operate through the endoscope, and, thus, to stitch, repair, stabilize and relocate damaged tissue. Small or ragged meniscal tears are gently removed arthroscopically. Major tears have to be stitched and fixed since meniscal tissue does not grow again.

After knee arthroscopy, physiotherapy and rehabilitation should follow in order to improve strength and range of motion.

Read more about minimally invasive knee arthroscopy

In rare cases, a larger part of the meniscus has to be removed. To avoid the increased risk of knee arthritis after the removal, meniscus replacement surgery is a good option.

Read more about meniscus replacement surgery

If cartilage has been already worn up or destroyed (arthritis, chondromalacia), the classic signs of wear and tear may emerge like aggravated start in the morning, strain pain, effusion and swelling. Often patients are confronted with knee replacement surgery. It is important to trade off the pros and cons of this complex and final decision.
In certain cases, patients are only suffering from a partial cartilage damage affecting only one side, medial or lateral. The so-called tibial osteotomy is then an elegant and minimally invasive alternative to an artificial joint. Tibial osteotomy also makes it possible to correct mechanical axis deviations like bowlegs or knock-knees.

Read more about the joint-saving tibial osteotomy