Two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage sit between your thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). These are called meniscus cartilages. They act as shock absorbers to cushion and stabilize the joint.
Meniscus tears in the younger population commonly happen because of a traumatic injury. Athletes who are moving fast with a lot of momentum can easily wrench or twist their knees by accident, causing a meniscal tear. People who tear their meniscus will often hear a pop when it happens. For middle-aged and older adults, meniscus tears can occur from less traumatic activities such as kneeling and squatting.
The common signs and symptoms of meniscus injuries are:
- Feeling like the knee is “giving way” or locking up during movement
- Being unable to move the knee
Without treatment, a piece of meniscus may come loose and drift into the joint. This can cause your knee to slip, pop, or lock.
If you choose to treat your knee pain or injury at home, you must be sure you do not re-injure or cause further damage to the knee. However, other times the injury is too great and will need to be examined by an orthopedic surgeon. If conservative non-surgical therapies do not help, surgical options are available and should be discussed.