The meniscus of the knee is the cartilaginous tissue that acts to absorb shock, cushion impact, facilitate movement and provide nutrients to the knee joint. The menisci are two half-moon shaped rings of cartilage that are prone to injury in sports people and in aging knees more generally. Generally sufferers of meniscus injury will experience pain on squatting and may experience giving way or locking of the knee. Quite often injury to the meniscus occurs in conjunction with injury to other soft tissue structures of the knee such as ligaments or tendons.
Patient’s often dread attending clinic and hearing that they’ve damaged their knee cartilage but the reality is that for the vast majority of patients knee meniscus injuries are not serious and generally will settle with an appropriate amount of rest, a short term change to activity types and some physiotherapy.
More substantial tears of the meniscus can require surgery but even this surgery is becoming less invasive all the time. It’s is always performed arthroscopically and is completed as a day case not necessitating a stay over in hospital except on rare occasions.
Physiotherapy for injuries to the knee menisci involves specific stretching and strengthening work. For minor injuries to the meniscus manual therapy is helpful in settling the symptoms quickly. Patients may need to avoid deep squatting for a short time after recovery from knee meniscus injury to avoid re-injury of the structure.