The knee joint includes interactions between the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone) and patella (kneecap). In between the femur and tibia sits the meniscus, a wedge shaped piece of cartilage, which provides cushioning and stability. Meniscal tears are one of the most common knee injuries. Acute meniscal tears may happen during sports. Degenerative meniscal tears may also occur when the cartilage weakens and wears thin over time.
The treatment of meniscal tears varies depending on the symptoms, type of tear, size and location. The inner two-thirds of the meniscus does not have a blood supply and cannot heal on its own without the nutrients provided by the blood. Because the pieces of the tear cannot grow back together, the tears in this portion are usually surgically debrided.
If symptoms of a meniscal tear do not persist and the knee is stable, the meniscus may not require surgical treatment. However, if symptoms do persist with nonsurgical treatment, arthroscopic surgery may be necessary.
In surgical treatment, the torn meniscus is removed. In knee arthroscopy, an arthroscope, a miniature camera, is inserted into the knee through a small incision in order to provide the surgeon with a view of the inside of the knee. Through another small incision, the surgeon will insert surgical instruments to trim the tear.
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