If you have a sharp pain on the inside or outside of the knee that hurts with twisting and when you press on it you may well have a torn cartilage, or torn meniscus. You may have had a twisting injury playing sport, or it may have come on from another injury. The knee may click, lock or feel like it is going to give way.
The two menisci are the rubbery shock absorber cartilages that sit inside the knee. Not to be confused with the smooth articular cartilage that lines the ends of the bones in the joint. There is a medial meniscus on the inside of the knee, and a lateral meniscus on the outside of the knee. Either can become torn. In young people these tears usually happen because of a notable twisting injury to the knee. In older patients the menisci get stiffer and more fragile and can tear with only a minor injury, which may go un-noticed. In sports people the injury often occurs with rapid changes of direction for example in football, or due to contact injuries.
Pain is felt within the knee joint and there may be a sensation of tearing. The knee may or may not swell and may be painful to walk on. In the following days you may notice sharp pains in certain positions, clicking, locking or giving way of the knee.
If you think you have this injury it is well worth getting it checked out by Mr Willis-Owen. It is important to treat the early phase with rest, ice, compression and elevation in order to minimise the bleeding and swelling. You should avoid any aggravating activities. Meniscal tears very rarely get better on their own, and surgery is usually required. The sooner this is done the better.
Treatment involves first confirming the diagnosis usually by a careful examination and an MRI scan. Once the diagnosis is certain keyhole surgery will be required to either repair or remove the damaged part of the meniscus. This will be followed by a carefully directed graduated physiotherapy program. See the information sheets about knee arthroscopy. Mr Willis-Owen performs hundreds of these operations each year.