The Meniscus of the knee is actually made up of two C-shaped pieces of tough cartilage, which function to cushion and absorb the shock of the body during weight bearing.
The Meniscus functions between the femur or thigh bone and the Tibial or leg bone. The smaller fibula does not articulate with the thigh bone. The inner Meniscus is referred to as the medial Meniscus and the outer Meniscus is referred to as the lateral Meniscus.
By absorbing and distributing the body weight across the knee joint, the Meniscus ensures even pressure against the tibia.
Athletes usually tear the Meniscus by a traumatic impact or twisting movement. Football players, tennis players, soccer players and basketball players are all notorious sufferers of Meniscus tears. Some athletes may also suffer from collateral ligament tears and ACL ruptures that occur concomitantly with a Meniscus tear.
Many tears can be minor and heal on there own with rest and a period of immobilization. More severe tears may induce a “locking up” of the knee joint, and may require arthroscopic surgery to remove and repair the damaged area.
How can a knee brace help a patient with a meniscus tear?
Many surgeons and clinicians will utilize a knee brace for immobilization following surgical repair or after an injury. In cases of prevention, patients and athletes with unstable knees or athletes that participate in sports that induce abrupt turns and side to side movements, can benefit from a dual hinged style brace.
The goal of a knee brace is to reduce abnormal rotational and side to side movements that occur in certain sports.
There are simple non-adjustable hinged braces that can provide the minimum amount of stability. There are more advanced adjustable hinged braces and professional carbon fiber and aluminum framed braces for those athletes that require maximum support and stability.
Whichever brace you choose, remember that the goal is to stabilize the knee so that it functions normally. A simple slip on sleeve type of brace may provide compression of the knee joint, but does not have the strength to withstand the environmental stress that is placed on the knee joint during athletic activity.
Please consult with your treating doctor or surgeon to determine if you are suffering from a Meniscus tear, and for the appropriate treatment of this painful and disabling condition.