A Closer Look at Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear is a common knee injury that occurs when the meniscus (your knee’s shock-absorbing cartilage between your thighbone and shinbone) suffers gradual wear and tear or sudden trauma, and it could happen to anyone. While “meniscus tear” is an overarching term, there are actually a number of different types.

  • Radial Tear
    The most common tear, it occurs in the part of the meniscus that has no blood supply, making it very difficult to heal on its own. The most common solution is to remove the damaged portion through surgery.
  • Horizontal Tear
    This tear is often easily treated with a meniscus repair, in which the tear is sewn back together rather than removed. However, if the tear is located too centrally or doesn’t have proper blood supply, it cannot be healed or repaired.
  • Complex Tear
    This occurs when there is a combination of tear patterns that involve both radial and horizontal tears. Meniscus repair is rarely used to treat this type of tear due it its complexity, but in extreme circumstances, some of the meniscus can be removed and the rest repaired.
  • Intrasubstance/Incomplete Tear
    A common tear, it may look completely normal on an MRI and rarely requires surgery. It’s typically indicative of early degenerative changes to the tissue.
  • Bucket-Handle Tear
    A large horizontal tear to the meniscus, this may cause the knee to become stuck when the torn tissue blocks normal knee motions. This requires immediate surgery to return full use of the knee.
  • Flap Tear
    This tear has an unusual pattern and may get caught in the knee. Fortunately, this abnormal flap can usually be removed without affecting too much tissue.

Your orthopedic specialist will diagnose which type of tear you may have using an exam, X-ray, and MRI then recommend a treatment course. If you think you’ve torn your meniscus—or are experiencing any other orthopedic pain—contact the subspecialists at Orlin & Cohen, Long Island’s leading orthopedic practice. Immediate appointments are available: Request yours now.