The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee that cushions and stabilizes the joint and protects the bones from wear and tear. But all it takes is a good twist of the knee to have a meniscus tear. The symptoms of a meniscus tear can include a sharp pain in the knee, swelling, a popping sensation, difficulty bending and straightening the leg and in some cases, a piece of the shredded cartilage breaks loose and catches in the knee joint, causing it to get “stuck” or “lock up”.

Gives More Life to The Knee

According to Dr. Nader Darwich, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon Specialized in Knee & Sports at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, it is crucial to save an important component such as the meniscus in an injured knee instead of just removing it as repairing it can give more life to the knee.  “Extremely significant for the function and survival of the knee, when there’s a meniscus tear or moderately damaged, a lot of people choose to remove the damaged part, which I disagree with because there are Orthopedic Surgeons like myself who can repair it.”

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The Meniscus is a Shock Absorber

Dr. Nader further adds that the meniscus acts as a shock absorber and plays a vital role in the stability, lubrication, and position of the knee. “By removing the meniscus there will be a wear and tear of the cartilage that leads to osteoarthritis of the knee. Many institutions do this by just shaving the meniscus and removing it.  Therefore, it is vital to change the attitude and preserve the meniscus for the future of the knee and bring about awareness on the Importance of its function and not sacrifice it.”

Meniscus tears are common especially in young people who do a lot of aggressive sports like football, volleyball and soccer. A meniscus tear can happen when a person changes direction suddenly while running, and often occur at the same time as other knee injuries, like an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. A meniscus tear is a special risk for older athletes since the meniscus weakens with age. More than 40% of people 65 or older have them. 85% to 90% of people who get the surgery for a meniscus tear, the short-term results are excellent. But in the long-term, people who have a large meniscal injury that is unrepairable may be at a higher risk of developing knee arthritis

Meniscus tears are common especially in young people who do a lot of aggressive sports like football, volleyball, and soccer.

– Dr. Nader Darwich, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon

Meniscus Tear Repair Success Cases

Um Saif aged 22 – an Emirati patient of Dr. Nader had torn his lateral meniscus 4 years ago while playing football.  It was identified as a bucket handle tear, the worst case of a meniscus. He says he went to 4 doctors who told him there was nothing wrong, but Dr. Nader took up the case immediately. “My knee was jammed, it would lock and unlock. I would go to the shopping mall for a walk and leave in a wheel chair. After surgery, I recovered fully with the help of physiotherapy within year and today I can play sports.”

Meniscus Tear: Why It's Important to Repair Instead of Removing It
Dr. Nader Darwich & Rashid Al Qubasi

Rashid Butti Al Qubasi, an Emirati UAE Representative International Champion Endurance runner who also became the first Emirati athlete to represent his nation in a combative sport at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing says, “I was experiencing excruciating pain in my knees. Dr. Nader was very familiar with my condition. I had a Knee Surgery ACL Reconstruction. After 2 months I was back to the field and was the first Arab and GCC national to ever win the XDubai Spartan Race which was held for the first time in Bahrain on April 1, 2016, at age 41. This was the most amazing moment in the history of the UAE and the Arab sporting world. Like me, Dr. Nader has operated many other players in the UAE national team. Today I am also a coach for the Abu Dhabi police team. I had a speedy recovery because I followed Dr. Nader’s schedule and instructions that helped me heal quickly.”

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How to lower the risks of a meniscus tear

Meniscus tears are tough to prevent since they’re usually the result of an accident. But some precautions might lower the risks of a knee injury such as:

  • Keep your thigh muscles strong with regular exercises.
  • Warm up with light activities before taking part
  • Give your body time to rest between workouts. Fatigued muscles can increase your risk of injury.
  • Make sure your shoes have enough support and fit correctly.
  • Maintain flexibility.
  • Never abruptly increase the intensity of your workout. Make changes slowly.

How a Meniscus Tear is diagnosed

To diagnose a meniscus tear, a doctor will give you a thorough exam and want to hear details about how you got your injury. X-rays may be necessary, to rule out broken bones and other problems. You may also need an MRI scan, which allows a more detailed evaluation of the knee cartilage. Treatment for meniscal tears depends on the size and location of the tear. Other factors which influence treatment include age, activity level and related injuries. Happily, not all meniscal tears require surgery. If your knee is not locking up, is stable, and symptoms resolve, nonsurgical treatments can be performed.

Meniscus Tear: Why It's Important to Repair Instead of Removing It

If a meniscus tear is large, unstable, or causing locking symptoms, surgery may be required and you can often go home the same day. You may need a brace afterward for protection if a repair is performed. Full recovery from surgery may take 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the type of procedure performed as well as other factors.