The ‘meniscus’ is a cartilage structure in your knee (between your thigh and shin bones) that helps to cushion the knee joint.
There is an inner (medial) meniscus and outer (lateral) meniscus. Both act as a shock absorber, and as a smooth surface for the bones to move on. They can be injured in movements that involve twisting on a bent knee (for example pivoting whilst in a squat position).
The menisci may also be injured when other ligaments of the knee are injured – such as an ACL tear. Slow degeneration of the menisci overtime may also occur, this is a progressive wear and tear process usually resulting from prolonged/repetitive knee bending/squatting.
Clients report pain at the knee joint line, along with an uncomfortable ‘catching’ or ‘locking’ of the joint during movements. This pain is usually sharp, but temporary. The knee is often tender to touch along the joint line.
Sometimes there is a small effusion (swelling) of the joint, but this may not be present in all cases.
Knee pain is reported with squatting.
An MRI is required to confirm menisci damage.
- If an acute injury has occurred, the initial treatment involves R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation).
- Conservative treatment is often recommended – newer research coming out shows the outcomes of surgery are no different to that of exercise rehab.
- Exercise Rehab – gain/maintain full knee range of motion, improve quad and/or hamstring strength, improve knee proprioception (balance and joint awareness), improve lower limb alignment.
- Release tight muscles around the knee joint – this depends on the individual client, but could be the hamstrings, calfs, quads, ITB.