Positioned between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia), the meniscus is a crescent-shaped structure with attachments to various supporting ligaments in the leg. Tears can occur in this structure as a result of trauma or degeneration due to aging, abnormal lower extremity alignment, high body mass index and sedentary lifestyle.
For younger, active individuals who intend to return to competitive sports, traumatic meniscus tears are generally treated with surgical repair associated with a high success rate. For older patients suffering from degenerative tears, the long-term outcome following surgery is poor. Consequently, older patients typically undergo arthroscopic debridement (also known as a partial meniscectomy) which involves the surgical removal of pathologic tissue through a small portal site and a much more accelerated rehabilitation program. While meniscal debridement is a popular treatment for meniscal tears, there is a strong correlation between debridement and early onset osteoarthritis in the knee joint. Thus, whenever possible, surgical repair is preferred over debridement.
In some cases, conservative (non-operative) management options can also be effective. Steroidal injection therapy can help manage pain in the initial stages of healing. Physical therapy can offer education on joint protection and activity modification, range of motion activities, joint mobilization, swelling control, knee and hip strengthening and balance training to return the patient to his or her accustomed lifestyle and level of activity.
For more information on meniscus tears and treatment, please call (504) 885-8969 to schedule your evaluation.
by Lee Couret