- The menisci are fibrocartilaginous structures between the femoral condyles and the tibial plateaus.
- The menisci help stabilize the knee and distribute forces across the joint.
- Meniscal tears can lead to knee pain and disability and, ultimately, are a risk factor for the development of knee osteoarthritis (OA).
- Meniscal injuries are rare in children aged <10 years. In this population, they are often due to a discoid meniscus.
- MRI is still the study of choice but is less sensitive and specific for diagnosing meniscal tears in children aged <12 years.
Bimodal age distribution—young athletes (traumatic) and older patients (degenerative)
Medial meniscus more commonly injured
One of the most common musculoskeletal injuries
Etiology and Pathophysiology
- Traumatic tears are acute. They generally occur due to a twisting motion of the knee with foot planted.
- Common in younger patients (aged <40 years) without underlying knee OA
- Degenerative tears are chronic. They generally occur with overuse and minimal trauma.
No specific gene locus has been identified.
- Nonmodifiable risk factors: male, discoid meniscus, ligamentous laxity
- Traumatic tear:
- High degree of physical activity (especially cutting sports)
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) insufficiency
- Degenerative tear:
- Increased age (>60 years)
- Work-related kneeling/squatting/climbing stairs
- Treatment and rehabilitation of previous knee injuries, particularly ACL injuries
- Strengthening and increased flexibility of quadriceps and hamstring muscles
- Weight management
Commonly Associated Conditions
- Traumatic tear: ACL concomitantly torn in 1/3 of cases
- Degenerative tear: OA, Baker cyst (greater association with medial meniscal tears)
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