Scientifically, a meniscus is the reaction you get when you put liquid inside a container. You see when you put water in a test tube or a beaker; it will form a curved shape at the top – that is a meniscus. This is because with most of the liquids available today, the attractive between the container and the liquid in question is more than the attractive forced between individual liquid molecules. As a result, the liquid will tend to ‘stick’ on the sides of the container, thus forming the curvy shape.
In the human body, meniscus is a type of cartilage tissue found in the knees and which is used to protect the needs and is responsible for flexibility of the knees. This cartilage tissue assumes the shape of a half a moon, with each knee having two of those. In plural terms, the meniscus is menisci, and they are to be found in between the tibia (otherwise referred to as the shinbone) and the femur (otherwise known as the thighbone).
Menisci are then further classified as per their physical location in the knees. Inside the knee you will find the medial meniscus whose work is to support the rounded edge of the femur find within the thigh. Exteriorly you will find lateral meniscus whose main role is to support the external rounded part of the same femur. Both the medial and lateral menisci work in tandem and act as shock absorbers in an effort to ensure the femur’s weight doesn’t get in the way of the tinier tibia. Further, they are responsible for the easy flexing and bending of the knees without making the bones crush over each other.
Because of the pressure that the femur exerts on the meniscus, they will appear squashed, with the curved part being in the middle of your knees and the wide part sitting snugly on the outside parts of each knee, parts that are in need of much cushioning. At the curve of each meniscus you will find some form of liquid that acts as a lubricant to the joints as they are subjected to hinging and straightening.
When you hear someone refer to an injury on the knee cartilage, it mostly happens when the meniscus tears. In teenagers and young adults, such an injury could be as a result of an accident or a traumatic damage when practicing or during an athletic sport. Accidentally twisting your knees could also lead to a tear, albeit a tiny one. Swelling followed by pain starts almost immediately, and a torn meniscus is diagnosed using a magnetic resonance imaging system (MRI). Severe tears can be easily repaired through surgery.
Tearing of the meniscus in adults could be as the result of cartilage degeneration due to old age. You see as you age, the fluid found on the cartilage tissues significantly reduces. Sadly, meniscus tear as a result of degenerative cartilage is never reparable, but there are treatments available that assuages the pain. With that being said, in order to take care of your joints and increase their longevity, osteopathy doctors recommend the consumption of glucosamine, at least once every day.