Following a twisting type of injury the medial (or lateral) meniscus can tear. This results either from a sporting injury or may occur from a simple twisting injury when getting out of a chair or standing from a squatting position. Our cartilages become a little brittle as we get older and therefore can tear a little easier. The symptoms of a torn cartilage include
Once a meniscal cartilage has torn it will not heal unless it is a very small tear that is near the capsule of the joint. Once the cartilage has torn it predisposes the knee to develop osteoarthritis (wear and tear) in 15 to 20 years. It is better to remove torn pieces from the knee if the knee is symptomatic.
Torn cartilages, in general, continue to cause symptoms of discomfort, pain and swelling until the loose, ragged pieces are removed. Only the torn section is removed and the knee should recover and become symptom free. If the entire meniscus is removed, the knee will develop osteoarthritis in 15 to 20 years. It is standard to remove only the torn section of cartilage in the hope that this will delay the onset of long-term wear and tear osteoarthritis.
Following surgery knee exercises are taught that are helpful in speeding up recovery. Strengthening the thigh muscles (Quadriceps and Hamstrings) is most important. Swimming and cycling (stationary or road) are excellent ways to build these muscles up and improve movement.