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What is a meniscus?

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

The meniscus is a cartilaginous structure between the thigh and shin bones within our knee joint. It acts as a shock absorber, distributes load, provides congruency and nutrients to our knee joint. The meniscus is divided into the medial (inside) and lateral (outside) compartments. Due to its makeup and attachment to nearby structures, the medial meniscus is more typically damaged.

Meniscus injuries are typically divided into two subcategories: younger patients or older patients (>40 years). In younger patients the meniscus is typically pristine prior to injury, in older patients, the meniscus may have degenerative changes present, but does not necessarily mean that there is knee pain. For example, an older patient may have the same amount of meniscus and cartilage degeneration in their non-painful knee – it’s a typical part of the aging process.

The typical mechanism of a meniscus injury is when a person twists (or rotates) on a slightly bent knee with the foot fixed to the ground. Depending on the degree of injury and age of the patient, meniscus injuries are either managed conservatively (typically with exercise) or surgically (repair or removal of part of the meniscus). Due to the increased risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA) following meniscus surgery, conservative management is with Orthopaedic Physiotherapy usually favourable initially. Knee meniscus surgery may be indicated if you are experiencing any difficulty with moving your knee through its normal range, such as locking or catching.

Speak to one of our Physiotherapists in North Adelaide to help determine the best possible management of your meniscus injury.

Luke Chetcuti

Physiotherapist with an interest in Sports Physiotherapy

Brukner & Khan (2017), Brukner & Khan’s Clinical Sport Medicine (5th Edition), Volume 1, Injuries

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