The lateral meniscus is attached to the shin and is located on the outer side of the knee. This C-shaped, rubbery, cartilage plays a key role in maintaining stability of the knee.
The lateral meniscus absorbs shocks, protecting the joint. It also keeps the joint lubricated and regulates the joint’s movement to prevent hyperextension (overextension). The rubbery nature of the meniscus makes it susceptible to tears when it is twisted during an irregular movement. Tennis players and weight lifters are prone to tears of the lateral meniscus. However, some people experience tears as they age, likely due to cumulative trauma.
The lateral meniscus can be torn in half or ripped so severely that it hangs by one thin fiber. People who experience a lateral tear may have limited movement in the leg and are unable to stretch it out. Pain, tightness, and swelling in the knee are other possible symptoms of a tear. Damage to the lateral meniscus can be repaired through meniscus transplant surgery. Tears can also be treated by allowing it to heal naturally, immobilizing the knee to prevent further damage.