Torn Meniscus? Find out if you have one

31 March 2020

If you feel your knees locking and when you are unable to straighten your leg, there is a possibility that you may have a meniscal tear. But what is a meniscus and how does it tear?

Redistributing Weight And Shock

You have two C-shaped menisci at each knee. Placed on each side of the knee, they face each other to form a circle of sorts. The outer meniscus on the outer part of your knee is called the lateral meniscus. The inner one is called the medial meniscus.

The function of the meniscus is to distribute the weight or forces at the knee, between your thigh (femur) and shin (tibia) bones more evenly. The meniscus is also very smooth and helps reduce friction during movement. Without the menisci, your thigh and shin bones were be rubbing against each other on their ends. This would be extremely painful and your leg movements will not be smooth.

meniscal tear

The meniscus is a fibrocartilaginous band that is quite tough; designed to bear the brunt of forces acting on it daily. However, twisting the knee or applying direct force in direct contact sports can damaged or tear the meniscus. Because the meniscus has, relatively, poor blood supply, the tears do not heal on their own and may require surgery.

A meniscal tear that catches, locks-the-knee, or produces swelling on a frequent or chronic basis should be removed or repaired before it damages the articular (gliding) cartilage in the knee.

There are many different ways a meniscal tear occurs, and some types have fanciful names like the Parrot-Beak tear and Bucket-Handle Tear.  you can learn more about them here.

Experiencing knee pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for knee pain relief and how Core Concepts can help

Here’s a video showing a type of meniscus tear (Bucket Handle Tear) that causes knee locking.

Meniscus Tear that causes locking (Bucket handle tear)