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The meniscus is a thick cartilage structure that sits between the bones of the knee. It has the shape of two C’s. The medial meniscus is the C shape on the knee’s inner side, and the lateral meniscus is the C shape on the outer side of the knee. The posterior horn refers to the back of the medial menisci at the end of the curve, where it tapers into a horn shape.
There is a posterior horn on both the medial and lateral menisci. There is also an anterior horn at the front of both menisci; the middle portion is called the meniscus body.
There is good blood supply to the outer third of the medial and lateral menisci, but the blood supply reduces towards the middle. This is because the blood supply comes from where the meniscus is attached to the joint capsule surrounding the joint.
The amount of blood supply to each area of the meniscus can have an impact on the health and healing ability of the meniscus. Injuries to the posterior horn of the medial meniscus tend to be less problematic, heal well, and pain will last less time. In contrast, injuries to the middle portion can be more problematic and may not heal conservatively.
You can read more about other common meniscus tears in our article: Bucket Handle Meniscus Tears and Other Common Meniscus Tears.
In our clinical experience, a posterior horn medial meniscus tear takes 6-8 weeks to recover. Recovery times can vary depending on the speed and accuracy of initial diagnosis and treatment methods.
The posterior horn of the medial meniscus is the most common part of the meniscus to injure. The type of tear, the blood supply to the injured area, and the health of the individual and the tissue determine the likelihood of effective and efficient healing. If the healing process is not sufficient and symptoms persist, the decision may be taken to operate to either remove the damaged tissue or repair the damaged tissue.
The above factors will be considered to make this clinical decision. Typically surgery to repair will only be undertaken in areas with good blood supply as there is a good chance for it to heal. Recovery from surgical repair to the posterior horn of the medial meniscus will be much longer, 3 to 6 months.
Whereas a meniscectomy of the medial meniscus, where the damaged cartilage is removed, can take 3 to 6 weeks post-surgery to recover.
Sometimes a brace will be recommended to offload the injured area and facilitate healing. You can read our recommendations on knee braces in another article: Knee Brace for Meniscus Tear.
Related article: Bucket Handle Meniscus Tears and Other Common Meniscus Tears
A meniscus tear is caused by excessive force through the knee joint. It is commonly a rotational force, or sudden acceleration or deceleration through the knee joint that will cause a tear. But a simple movement such as a deep squat especially if there is high weight can also result in a tear. Causes of tears of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus are more likely to occur when the knee is in deep flexion, such as crouching and twisting.
Learn about the best treatments and recovery time for a torn meniscus.
Common sports for acute meniscus injuries are football, rugby, skiing, wrestling, basketball, baseball, and other sports with high volumes of jumping and running with sudden changes of direction or speed.
In some cases, this injury can occur with or following an injury to the ACL as if the knee has excessive forward movement, greater stress will be applied to the meniscus.
Other risk factors for degenerative tears include being over the age of 60 years, men being more at risk than women, occupations that require frequent kneeling and squatting, and frequent stair climbing (Snoeker et al, 2013).
This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments weekly.