The meniscus is one of the most important structures we have within our knees. Within each of our knees we have two menisci:
- We have an inner, or medial meniscus
- and an outer, or lateral meniscus.
Again, the meniscus is a very important structure. The meniscus plays two important roles within the knee.
- A meniscus is a critical shock absorber within the knee.
- The meniscus also provides stability within the knee.
How Important is the Meniscus?
When the meniscus is torn, and thus not functioning well it will lead to more stress on the cartilage on the end the femur and the top of the tibia. This is a why a meniscus tear can lead to osteoarthritis.
Every time you step down your meniscus absorbs the majority of the weight you are putting on the leg. If the mensicus is torn, or absent then that weight will need to be distributed elsewhere — and thus set in motion a series of events which will eventually lead to osteoarthritis, or loss of cartilage and seriously diminished function and potentially significant pain.
As we recently discussed on this blog, meniscus tears occur for two main reasons. Some of you will have suffered an injury and thus have an acute meniscus tear. Others do not recall any injury, the pain simply started after you squatted down to get something from a cabinet. In that instance you have a degenerative tear where your meniscus wore out over time and gave way with minimal trauma.
The cause of your meniscus tear has a significant impact on the treatments we will recommend to you. Because a meniscus is so important to maintaining proper function of the knee, in many acute injury cases we might recommend a repair. A repair means sewing the torn pieces together. That will maintain the integrity of the meniscus — and thus minimize your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
In future posts… our Experts will comment on treatment recommendations based on the type of tear that you have.
Stay tuned … The importance of the meniscus is now clear. Let’s better define how they should be treated.