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Torn Meniscus - Fact Check and Risk Factors

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Judging from the first word of this injury, I am already not in favor of what is involved. A torn meniscus is tricky and, depending on the severity of the tear, can leave you with no other option but surgery to ensure the best recovery possible.

So, what exactly is a meniscus?

Technically speaking we will call them menisci because you have two in each knee. They are a c-shaped wedge-like piece of tough cartilage that bears the weight of your body and distributes the weight evenly and safely.

Picture this: you are outside running around in the backyard after your five year old son. In order to catch him you must zig zag around the swing set and baby pool. Your menisci are distributing your shifting weight across the knees as you are zigging and zagging to avoid injuring your knees. As I said before, you have two in each knee. They both play an integral role in saving your knees from degenerative damage in the future.

One is located on the inside of the knee and that is called the medial meniscus. The other one is located on the outside of the knee and is known as the lateral meniscus. Your knee joint as a whole is very complex and is comprised of 3 bones – the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shine bone) and patella (knee cap). The surface where they all meet in the knee cap is covered with a layer of cartilage, so when you move your leg and knee, the bones shift over one another smoothly.

When the cartilage or meniscus is torn, it can cause damage to the bone. It aides in performing almost every physical activity and without everything working properly, your idea of a fun afternoon of playing catch the little kid at the park, will be near impossible.

So, who is at risk? And how exactly does this tear happen?

The general mechanical reason for a torn meniscus is when the knee joint is bent and the knee is twisted in a certain direction. Of course, anyone is at risk for an injury like this, especially if it is an accident, like tripping over the sidewalk, slipping on stairs and trying to catch your fall, or just plain tripping over your own two feet.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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