What Is a Meniscus Tear?

The meniscus is the disc-shaped piece of cartilage found at the end of certain bones that acts as a cushion between one bone and the next. A meniscus tear occurs when this cartilage tissue is damaged due to injury. The part of the human body most likely to experience such an injury is the knee.

Causes & Symptoms

Tears of the meniscus of the knee joint are often caused by sudden twisting of the knee or by hyperextension of the knee. Injury is more likely if the person’s full body weight is resting on the knee at the time of the sudden twist or flexion.

The knee that has suffered the tear is likely to experience pain, stiffness, and swelling. Often the affected knee does not have its full range of motion immediately after the injury. Minor tears of the meniscus may heal on their own given rest, ice to help reduce the swelling, and an over-the-counter medication to deal with the pain. Other, more severe cases may require orthopedic surgery as an intervention. Stem cell therapy has also been proposed as a potential treatment.

Treatments

How Is this Condition Treated with PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)?

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections have the rather paradoxical effect of provoking more inflammation in the knee affected by the torn meniscus. Although this may seem like a counter intuitive form of treatment, it is designed to stimulate the body’s own immune system to begin the natural healing process. Growth factors inside the activated platelets encourage the body to produce collagen to replace the torn area of cartilage.

How Is this Condition Treated with Stem Cell Therapy (Regenerative Therapies)?

Stem cells injected into the knee in the area of the torn meniscus have the effect of stimulating the meniscus to grow new tissue to begin to repair itself. This effect is desirable since orthopedic surgery removes the torn area of the meniscus, taking away some of the body’s natural ability to absorb shock in the knee and opening the door to possible osteoarthritis in the future. Rather than removing cushioning tissue, stem cells contribute to the growth of new cushioning tissue.