Meniscus are the cushions in the knee joint which provide extra support for the cartilage (smooth lining) of the joint. It helps the knee cartilage to withstand shearing forces in twisting and bending the knee.
How does meniscus tear?
However, the meniscus can get torn if the twisting / shearing / bending forces with load overwhelm what the meniscus can withstand. Often the tear can be due to repetitive strain where there may not be a history of one particular injury. Meniscal tears can often be asymptomatic. However, the large tears lead to pain in loading and bending, cross legged sitting and squats. It can also lead to catching and locking symptoms.
Fate of untreated meniscal tears
Unfortunately, most meniscus tears do not heal by themselves, however long the time interval you give for them to do so.
If the meniscus tears are not treated, that can lead to increased stress on the cartilage and hence an increase in the wear and tear of the cartilage leading to arthritis.
Treatment for meniscal tear
Treating the meniscus injuries with arthroscopic meniscal repair is an important tool to get people back to a pain free stable knee. However, in older age group with arthritic changes in the joint already, this surgery may not add on to any major benefit. In this cohort of the population, arthroscopic meniscal repair / partial meniscectomy is warranted only if there are locking symptoms or significant pain correlatable only to the meniscal tear.