Lateral Meniscal Injury
Menisci are special paired structures situated between the femur or thigh bone and the tibia or shin bone. These are C –shaped structure placed on the top of the tibia, one on either side, or support the femur during the movement of the knee. They act as a shock absorber and help in uniform distribution of the weight, in all direction, and provide stability to the knee joint.
Lateral meniscal injury refers to the injury of the meniscus present towards the outer side of the knee. It is a painful condition and affects the quality of life of the patient. It can affect individuals of all age group but is more common in athletes and the elderly.
Any trauma, degenerative changes, sudden abnormal activity, over use of the knee joint, overweight and heavy weight lifting can cause meniscal injury. A sudden forceful twisting movement makes the end of the femur to grind over the top of tibia, resulting in a tear in the meniscus. This sort of injury is commonly seen in the athletes, especially those involved in contact sports such as football, hockey, tennis and basketball where more pivoting activities are required. Other factors such as age and increased body weight may cause degenerative changes of the meniscus, interrupting the blood supply and hampering the resilience of the structure. Sometime an injury of associated ligaments or other structure of the knee may result in meniscal injury.
Pain is the predominant symptom of the condition, which may felt during walking, bending or rotating of knee. There may also be associated swelling and tenderness over the outer side of the knee. Sometime patient may experience buckling of the knee or a clicking or popping sensation within the knee.
Diagnostic measures such as physical examination, history of the injury, X-ray and other advanced imaging systems help in evaluation of the injury. A careful evaluation of history and physical examination may also help to differentiate a meniscal tear from other causes of knee pain. Certain special tests help to confirm the diagnosis of a meniscal tear.
X-ray and other advanced imaging systems are used to determine the nature of the injury and to evaluate its severity.
Surgical and non-surgical treatment options are available for the management of lateral meniscal injury. The treatment of the injury depends on several factors such as severity, location, activity level of the patient, any associated disease within the knee joint and the patient response to the initial treatment.
Conservative measures such as RICE Therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and anti-inflammatory medications can be used for relaxation and immediate pain relief. Physical therapy also may be used to rehabilitate the affected joint as well as to improve the stability and muscle strength of the joint.
The surgical treatment is required when the conservative treatment fails to be beneficial; an immediate is recovery needed or presence of degenerative changes in the knee. The popular surgical procedures used for the management of lateral meniscal injury include meniscectomy, meniscal transplantation and meniscus repair.