What is a Meniscus?

Your knees are the largest joints in your body, which makes sense given all they’re in charge of in terms of mobility, range of motion, and support. To meet all of these demands, your knees feature hard and soft tissues that work together to ensure optimal function. Unfortunately, this also means that a problem in one area can compromise your entire knee, which is certainly true of your menisci.

Dr. Timothy Wilson, who has dual board certifications in orthopedic surgery and orthopedic sports medicine, and our team have in-depth knowledge of the intricate workings of these major joints and, more importantly, we know how to restore function.

In the following, we take a deeper dive into one area of your knee — your mensici — to give you an idea of the important roles these soft tissues play.

Inside your knee

To appreciate the role of the meniscus, it’s important to understand the overall anatomy of your knee, which is where three bones come together:

These bones are held together and stabilized by a series of ligaments while tendons regulate movement as they attach to your surrounding muscles. Providing crucial cushioning between your thighbone and shinbone are wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage called menisci.

Each of your knees features two menisci and the wedge-shaped pieces are thicker around the perimeter to provide more stability within your knee.

The composition of your menisci is mostly collagen (about 70%) and these soft tissues don’t enjoy good access to regenerative resources thanks to a lack of blood supply. More specifically, the inner two-thirds of your meniscus, which we call the “white zone,” doesn’t have blood vessels, while the outer third (the “red zone”) does benefit from adequate blood supply. As a result, if you damage your meniscus, the tissue often doesn’t have the resources necessary to heal on its own.

A meniscus tear

Far and away the most common problem that crops up in a meniscus is a tear, which is more common among those who push their knees in athletic pursuits like soccer, tennis, or football. That said, any activity that can torque your knee puts you at risk for meniscus damage.

How we go about treating a torn meniscus depends entirely upon the extent and location of your tear. If it’s a minor tear in the red zone, time and rest may do the trick. Unfortunately, many of the meniscus tears we see here are fairly moderate and extend into the white zone, which means we should go in surgically to repair the damage.

Rest assured, we use the latest minimally invasive techniques for your meniscus repair, which means you’ll regain full use of your knee again more quickly.

If you have any more questions about your menisci or you suspect you may have some damage in this tissue, please contact our office in Lexington, Kentucky, to set up a consultation.

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