Just like it sounds, a torn meniscus is a tear or rip in the meniscus in the knee joint. Meniscal tears can happen in either the medial, lateral, or both menisci and can be small tears or complete tears that cut through the entire meniscus. Tearing your meniscus is the most common knee injury that occurs and is normally caused by forceful twisting of the knee.
Types of Torn Meniscus
There are many different types of meniscus tears that can occur. Meniscal tears come in various shapes and sizes and can be extensive or limited to just one small area. Most are named after the shape or location of the tear.
- Bucket Handle Meniscus Tear: A bucket-handle meniscus tear occurs around the edge or rim of the meniscus, which leads to the central portion of the meniscus, normally called the bucket handle, to displace into the knee joint. Bucket handle meniscus tears usually are large and are most often caused by athletics or a forceful twisting of the knee. Normally bucket tears can be treated with surgery depending on the size.
- Horizontal Meniscus Tear or Cleavage Meniscus Tear: This type of torn meniscus occurs deep in the meniscus and slices horizontally through the top and bottom of the cartilage. It normally is caused in older patients by degeneration or in younger patients through knee rotation injuries. Without treatment these tears can grow into horizontal flap tears which completely tear the meniscus from the surface.
- Longitudinal Meniscus Tear or Vertical Meniscus Tear: This type of torn meniscus occurs deep in the meniscus and slices across the cartilage vertically. It is the most common type of meniscus tear and usually can be treated with surgery.
- Posterior Horn Tears of Medial Meniscus: This type of torn meniscus occurs in the inner medial menisucs and is normally shaped like a small horn. It normally can be treated with surgery.
- Radial Meniscus Tear: This type of torn meniscus from the edge of the cartilage inward and is normally caused by forcible movements and twists of the knee joint. The most common treatment form is surgery.
- Flap Meniscus Tear or Oblique Meniscus Tear: This type of torn meniscus tears is when the meniscus completely separates from the knee joint and becomes a flap. It can be difficult to treat and sometimes requires removal of the entire meniscus.
Degrees of Meniscal Tears
- Partial Meniscus Tear: This type of torn meniscus means that the meniscus is still attached to the front and back of the knee joint but has some type of tear from activity or degeneration. Although they sometimes heal on their own, they are most often treated surgically.
- Complete Meniscus Tear: This type of torn meniscus is when the meniscus tissue completely separates from the bone and joint. It is usually accompanied by more pain and almost always requires surgery. Sometimes complete meniscus tears can not be repaired.
- Degenerative Meniscus Tear: This type of torn meniscus mostly occurs in older patients as their meniscus becomes more brittle and dry. The edges of the inner rim of the meniscus frays and tears, usually at multiple places. Sometimes surgery can help a degenerative meniscus tear.