Torn Meniscus

What is a torn meniscus?

A torn meniscus is damage to the cartilage that sits on top of the tibia and allows the femur to glide when the knee joint moves. Tears are usually described by where they are located and their appearance (for example, "bucket handle" tear, longitudinal, parrot beak, and transverse). While physical examination may predict whether it is the medial or lateral meniscus that is damaged, a diagnostic procedure, like an MRI or knee arthroscopy, can locate the specific part of the cartilage that is torn and how it appears.

Because there is different blood supply to each part of the meniscus, knowing where the tear is located may help decide how easily an injury might heal (with or without surgery). The better the blood supply, the better the potential for recovery. The outside rim of cartilage has better blood supply than the central part of the "C." Blood supply to knee cartilage also decreases with age, and up to 20% of normal blood supply is lost by age 40.

Reviewed on 6/18/2012