The menisci act like shock absorbers in your knee and can be injured when you play sport.
If you have a smartphone or tablet device, we can provide you with the MyRecovery™ smartphone app for patients having procedures for meniscal injuries. The app, exclusive to patients at The Wellington Knee Unit, was created by surgeons and offers you step-by-step help and advice before, during, and after you’ve had the procedure. It can also help you to track your own progress and set yourself achievable goals using your mobile device.
Meniscal injuries are a really common type of knee injury. They happen when the menisci, wedges of tough rubbery tissue inside the knee, are damaged.
What are the menisci?
The menisci work a bit like shock absorbers, spreading the load in your knee joint and helping to protect it from jolts, vibrations, and force when you walk or take part in sports. They also help keep your knee joint stable so that it doesn’t get damaged when you twist your knee.
How do meniscal injuries happen?
Although the menisci are soft and elastic, there is a limit to how much force or pressure they can cope with. Injuries in younger people often happen when the knee is violently twisted, tearing the meniscus. However, as we age, problems can be caused by wear and tear; this means the meniscus becomes weaker and is more likely to tear. Some older people can damage their menisci just by sitting with their knees flexed for long periods, for example on a flight.
Why might I need to have meniscal surgery?
In most cases, if you tear your meniscus it won’t get better by itself. You may have lots of pain and swelling, and other problems such as ‘clicking’. In some cases the joint can become ‘locked’ in one position for a while, feeling as if it’s stuck.
However, if your injury has been caused by wear and tear rather than an accident, our physiotherapists can design a personalised rehabilitation programme for you that may, in some cases, mean you can avoid the need for surgery.
If you already have arthritis in your knee joint, arthroscopy may not be as successful. Your surgeon will be able to advise you about this.
What is knee arthritis
Normally, the joints in the knee are covered with a smooth slippery surface called ‘articular cartilage’. As we age, or because of damage from an earlier accident, the articular cartilage in the joint can wear away, leaving rough areas that cause pain, swelling and deformity. This is known as osteoarthritis, or ‘arthritis’ for short. Arthritic joints can cause pain and stiffness, limiting your movement, and affecting your everyday life.
Will I need any tests or scans?
Most patients are offered X-rays and MRI scans to find out more about their injury before having surgery. You can find out more information about surgery on this website, including other tests you might be offered.
How is meniscal surgery carried out?
The most common way to treat meniscal problems is to remove the torn part of the meniscus using knee arthroscopy. In most cases, this means you can return to your everyday activities, including sport, without any more problems. The younger you are, the more likely it is that your operation will be a complete success.
Will there be any problems afterwards?
Having part of your meniscus removed, especially when you are young, can mean you have a slightly higher overall risk of developing arthritis in your knee joint later in life. The more of the meniscus that’s removed, the greater the risk.
However, if you already have arthritis, having meniscal surgery is unlikely to make your knee problems any worse.
If I lose meniscus, is there anything that can be done to replace it?
At The Wellington Knee Surgery Unit we are able to offer our patients the latest techniques and treatments including ACTIfit ® , a synthetic ‘scaffold’ which helps new tissue to grow so that it can replace any meniscal tissue that’s been removed.