There are two types of cushion between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia). The medial and lateral menisci are the mobile cushions that protect the inside and outside of the knee from the increased pressures of the curved thigh bone and the flat shin bone. These cushions can at times become frayed, torn, and even displaced into other sections of the knee. This can be due to trauma, overuse or age related wear and tear. When these abnormalities of the menisci become painful treatments is often required. This can involve physical therapy, avoidance of offending activities, anti-inflammatory medications, and as a last resort, surgical intervention. Certain types of tears of the menisci can heal on their own, particularly in younger patients. Tears can also when put under excessive stress extend and tear further. Diagnosing meniscal tears involves an appropriate history, physical exam, x-rays, and if warranted further diagnostic testing such as an MRI.
The second type of cushion in the knee is called articular cartilage. It is the surface covering of the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and knee cap (patella). This type of cartilage is adherent to the bone and is similar in consistency and chemical makeup to the cartilage in the human ear and nose. On occasion, this articular cartilage can become frayed, torn, separated from the bone, or completely dislodged. The depth of damage usually determines the extent of a patients symptoms. Fraying of the cartilage can cause symptoms and when these symptoms do not respond to medications, therapy, or avoidance of offending activities, surgical treatment involving smoothing of the roughened cartilage can be effective. A more severe condition occurs when the cartilage is severely damaged and a weight bearing surface of bone becomes exposed. The healthcare specialists at Premier Orthopedics are specifically trained to appropriately diagnose and treat a wide variety of meniscal and articular cartilage conditions.