What Happens When A Meniscus Tear is Neglected?

Meniscus is the shock absorption pads inside the knee joints.  We have 2 of them in each knee.  They are called the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus. 

Studies have shown that the medial meniscus absorbs 50% of the medial knee joint load while the lateral meniscus absorbs 70% of the lateral knee joint load.

In addition, the meniscus handles 50% of the joint load when the knee is extended.

The meniscus handles 85 to 90% of the joint load when the knee is flexed.

Any injury to the meniscus, such as a meniscus tear, will cause problems with the load absorption function of the meniscus. 

This means more load is transmitted directly to the knee joint’s articular cartilage.

Over time, the knee joint’s articular cartilage will become thinner and thinner at a faster rate. 

Once the cartilage is worn out and the underlying bone is exposed, the knee joint becomes painful.

This video shows an arthroscopic examination of one of my patient’s knee. He had a chronic tear of the lateral meniscus of the right knee that was not treated for a long time.  When he came to me, the articular cartilage of the knee joint where the meniscus tear was has become worn out.

The take home message is do not neglect meniscus tears of the knee joint. It can present much later with a much bigger problem.

For more information, please contact us at 683 666 36 or email hcchang@ortho.com.sg

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