If you’re a sporty type you might have heard of friends tearing their meniscus, or suffering a meniscal tear as part of their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. But what is a meniscal tear and who is at risk of suffering the injury?
There are two menisci found within the knee (the medial and lateral menisci), which act as shock absorbers between the top of the leg (the femur bone) and the lower leg (the tibia). There are two primary ways these menisci can tear, either by traumatic injury or degenerative wear. Degenerative changes typically happen in older people who have knee joint arthritis whilst traumatic tears are common in sports teams.
If you are seeing your doctor about knee pain and are worried about the possibility you could have torn the menisci – it can be helpful to understand the process the doctor is undertaking to either confirm or dispute the presence of a meniscal tear. The will start by asking you a few questions about the knee pain and how it happened. A few of these questions include:
They will then move on to an examination. Specialist doctors at knee centre across the country will usually be able to tell during the examination what the injury is and order imaging afterward to confirm their suspicion. They can do a number of specialist knee tests including:
The physician then might offer you imaging. This is usually in the form of an MRI scan of the knee and an X-ray of the knee (this can show arthritis changes amongst other things). Typically the MRI scan is the diagnostic test which confirms the doctors’ suspicion of a tear. If you or somebody you know is suffering from knee pain – consider it might be a meniscal tear and get seen by one of the specialist centers for orthopedics across the United States.
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