Harvard Men's Health Watch

Torn knee cartilage

Q. I am 72 years old and in good health. I've had left knee pain on and off for almost six months, nothing too severe, but it aches if I walk more than a mile or so, and I sometimes get sharp pain on the stairs. My doctor sent me for an MRI of both knees; it showed "mild to moderate osteoarthritis" in both knees and a torn meniscus in my right knee, which feels fine. I think I know what to do about my painful knee — but what should I do for the torn meniscus in my "good" knee?

A. Before we get to your interesting questions, some background information may be helpful.

The meniscus is a crescent-shaped disk of fibrous tissue and cartilage. Each knee has two menisci located between the femur (thighbone) and tibia (lower leg bone); one is on the inside of the joint (the medial meniscus), the other on the outside (the lateral meniscus). Together, the menisci act as "shock absorbers," protecting the other cartilage tissue that covers the end portions of the femur and tibia.

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