medial meniscus and lateral meniscus are
specialized structures within the knee. These crescent-shaped shock
absorbers between the tibia and femur have an important role in the
function and health of the knee. Once thought to be of little use,
the menisci (plural) were routinely removed when torn.
Now we know that the menisci contribute to a healthy knee because
they play important roles in joint stability, force transmission,
and lubrication. When possible, they are repaired if injured. There
are even experimental attempts to replace a damaged meniscus, possibly
an important advance in orthopaedic medicine.
An acute tear usually occurs
when the knee is bent and forcefully twisted, while the leg is
in a weight bearing position. Statistics show that about 61 of
100,000 people experience an acute tear of the meniscus.
Degenerative tears of the meniscus are more common in older people. Sixty percent of the population over the age of 65 probably has some sort of degenerative tear of the meniscus. As the meniscus ages, it weakens and becomes less elastic. Degenerative tears may result from minor events and there may or may not be any symptoms present.
What are the menisci?
two menisci of the knee are crescent-shaped wedges that fill the gap
between the tibia and femur. The menisci provide joint stability
by creating a cup for the femur to sit in. The outer edges are fairly
thick while the inner surfaces are thin. If the menisci were missing,
the curved femur would move on the flat tibia.
The important role of the meniscus in force transmission can be seen when the menisci are removed.
the 1960s and 1970s, it was common to remove a damaged meniscus entirely.
This frequently led to early degenerative arthritis in many
is a meniscus injury?
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