Meniscus damage can have various causes. Most meniscus tears are caused by wear and tear, although sports or other accidents can of course also cause a meniscus tear. In a sports accident, especially if the knee is twisted, painful meniscus tears can occur, which are often felt as trapping symptoms. Many patients also report knifelike stitches in the knee joint, which can also be typical symptoms of a meniscus tear. Even “squatting” can then be very painful and in many cases can no longer be performed (film).
Painful swelling of the joint may occur during sporting activity. In these cases a specialist should be consulted as soon as possible.
Damage that occurs in the joint, e.g. meniscus tears, ligament injuries or cartilage damage, can often be diagnosed during examinations. Before an arthroscopy, however, a more precise instrumental diagnosis is usually carried out, for example a magnetic resonance tomography. Magnetic resonance tomography is not associated with any radiation exposure for the patient, but provides additional information before the operation which enables the surgeon to plan the operation precisely.
A torn part of the meniscus heals neither through appropriate protection or immobilization, nor through tablets, injections or physiotherapy. Like a hole in a pullover with a thread hanging away, a meniscus rupture becomes bigger and bigger due to the daily strain and the resulting tension at the free end. As a rule, there is no alternative to arthroscopic surgery. A mini camera with optics is inserted into the joint via a small access and even the smallest structures are made visible by magnification on a screen (film). Another small approach allows you to “repair” the torn meniscus with miniature special instruments (keyhole surgery).
In the past, almost the entire meniscus was frequently removed during surgery, thereby destroying an important buffer and stabilizing function of the knee joint, which led to premature joint degeneration (arthrosis). Today’s modern arthroscopic surgical techniques can largely preserve this important structure.
This will usually prevent premature arthrosis.
Especially in the case of meniscus tears, early exact diagnosis is therefore extremely important so that a small tear does not become a large tear and the function of the knee joint can be gently restored during the subsequent arthroscopic operation.
In modern joint surgery, replacement tissue for a complete removed meniscus is also attempted today. On the one hand this can be done by a donor meniscus, i.e. by a meniscus of a deceased person that has been processed accordingly. On the other hand, there are also collagen inner meniscus implants (C. M. I.) which are supposed to assume the function of a meniscus in the joint.
Initial studies on this implant appear promising, but only in the future will this procedure be able to show whether it can be used in routine diagnostics as an operative measure. Today, we have little experience in the field of meniscus transplantation and this procedure is not yet covered by any health insurance. We, too, are open to all new techniques, but we will only offer them to our patients if we have sufficient experience and good results scientifically proven.