KNOW YOUR KNEE…
Guest Blog by MA | 9th July 2022
A few days back, the case of a young patient was highlighted. The patient was trying to stand up after crouching down to feed her pet. She felt a “click” and heard a sound from her knee. She then felt some pain in her knee.
This turned out to be a meniscal tear.
Sharing this anecdote, which on its own does not seem so special, illustrates the possibility of a meniscal tear arising from a simple daily activity such as standing up too quickly.
At first, she did not realise the significant impact that some meniscal tears can have on patients, particularly when a fragment becomes displaced. This, however, is exactly what can happen when people talk about torn cartilage in the knee. They usually mean a meniscal injury.
Although the knee joint is commonly injured in various sporting activities such as football, rugby, skiing, running and netball, you do not need to be a sportsperson to get a knee injury [Patient.info]. Anyone can get a knee injury, for example, by stumbling into a pothole, but often people are unable to recall a specific event.
There are many structures within the knee that can be injured. These include the lining of the joint surface, the articular cartilage, the menisci (which act as shock absorbers), and the ligaments that support the knee such as the anterior (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligaments (PCL). Muscles, tendon and bone can also be injured. The purpose of this blog is to focus on the meniscal injuries.
So what are the menisci?
Owing a lot to the knee joint being the largest joint in the human body [medicalnewstoday.com], any curious mind would look up the anatomy of menisci. The menisci are a pair of wonderfully crafted crescent shaped or C-shaped pads or rubbery pieces of cartilage, that provides shock absorption in the knee joint. They lie between your thigh bone (femur) and your shin bone (tibia), the medial meniscus on the inside of the knee (close to the opposite knee) and the lateral meniscus, on the outside of the knee. The menisci help to transmit weight from the thigh bone to the tibia bone and help to keep the knee stabile. The cartilage (or lining) on the surface of the knee joint also help to transfer the body weight from the femur to the tibia bone. The complexity of the knee, its size and stress bearing capacity make it an important joint for function, vital for movement and vulnerable to injury. It is unquestionably one of the important joints of the body.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF A MENISCUS TEAR?
Well, have you ever experienced an awkward twist when getting up from a chair? Quite interesting to find that the twisting of the knee, aggressive pivoting or sudden stops and turns, even kneeling, deep squatting or lifting something heavy can result in a torn meniscus. Sometimes patients develop torn menisci by walking or recall no specific injury and sometime meniscal tears can be degenerative in nature and not ‘traumatic’. In addition to age, people suffering from arthritis are also prone to meniscus tearing.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms can include swelling in the knee which may be associated with a popping sensation. Some patients describe sharp catching pain which can later become a continuous aching pain. Stiffness and difficulty in straightening the knee are also common symptoms.
The information in this blog is focused and may be slightly alarming, but it is good to understand the cause of your knee pain and to develop a treatment plan to help you as soon as it is diagnosed. So rather than worrying about a torn meniscus, it is more important that you understand what is causing your knee pain so that you can manage your treatment plan with a positive frame of mind.
Gear up for the next blog on ‘Know your Knee – types of meniscal tears’ wherein we will closely explore the different types of tears and also discuss the solutions! I hope this blog has helped you to ‘know your knee’ a little better!