Disc Meniscus

An anatomical variant of the meniscus is called disc meniscus. It can sometimes cause discomfort.

Disc Meniscus

What is a disc meniscus?

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage located inside the knee joint. The purpose of the menisci is to compensate for the joint surfaces of the thigh and lower leg bones that do not fit together exactly. The menisci are usually crescent-shaped. With a disc meniscus, however, the size of the meniscus is larger. See deluxesurveillance for Heart Attack Guide.

In addition, it has the shape of a disc. Thus, the disc meniscus extends to the edge of the tibia bone. In around 95 percent of all people affected, the disc meniscus occurs on the lateral meniscus. About every fifth patient has disc menisci on both knees. The disc meniscus was made famous in 1889 by RB Young, who first described it.

It is difficult to estimate exactly how many people are affected by this meniscus variant, as it either causes no symptoms or only causes them later. It is believed to show up in 0.4 to 17 percent of all people. A disc meniscus is particularly common in people living in Asia. These include primarily Japanese. In western countries, on the other hand, it is less common.


The causes of the development of a disc meniscus are still unknown. The formation of this meniscus shape is already innate. However, histological studies invalidated the thesis that the conversion of the crescent meniscus to a disc shape occurs during embryonic development. Thus, no disc-shaped menisci could be detected during the entire embryonic development.

Numerous physicians, on the other hand, see mechanical misdevelopments as the trigger. The disc meniscus only forms when the central region between the tibial plateau and the thigh roll is pinched due to stress on the knee and concomitant movements occur. This creates a classic snapping phenomenon associated with pain.

The symptoms of a disc meniscus do not appear until the age of six to eight years, which is due to the increasing body weight and height of the child. In some sufferers, the symptoms can also start earlier. They rarely occur after the age of 12. Since many doctors are unaware of the disc meniscus, it is often diagnosed too late.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The people affected do not always suffer from symptoms due to a disc meniscus. As already mentioned, symptoms of entrapment usually appear between the ages of 6 and 8. Due to a strain on the knee, the disc meniscus gets trapped between the thigh roll and the tibial plateau.

If this problem is not recognized in time, there is a risk of arthrosis with all its side effects. If the patient moves the disc meniscus, he often hears a snap. The snapping phenomenon can also be associated with pain. These usually show up on the outside of the knee.

The snapping of the disc meniscus is particularly noticeable when walking or climbing stairs. This development is usually insidious and can take months or even years. As a rule, however, those affected only suffer from a disc meniscus with certain injuries. These include detachment of the meniscus from the retaining apparatus and a meniscus tear.

Typical symptoms are pain and restricted mobility. It is not uncommon for patients to also experience load-related knee problems that are non-specific. Joint effusions are rare.

Diagnosis & course of disease

Because the disc meniscus rarely causes symptoms, it is often diagnosed by pure chance. In this case, an imaging examination of the knee usually takes place for another reason. In some cases, an x-ray can be enough to identify a disc meniscus.

However, it is considered more reliable to carry out a nuclear spin tomography, which is also known as magnetic resonance imaging. As part of this examination, the doctor can examine and assess the neighboring holding apparatus, which can also identify a tear in the meniscus. For this reason, magnetic resonance imaging is considered the most reliable method for diagnosing a disc meniscus.

If the disc meniscus can be detected at an early stage, it takes a favorable course in most cases and only rarely causes complications. If an operation is required, the knee can then be used in the same way as a normal knee. Without appropriate treatment, however, there is a risk of secondary effects such as a meniscus tear or arthrosis.


Occasionally, due to its size, the disc meniscus becomes trapped between the femoral roll and the tibial plateau. If there is no or delayed treatment, this can lead to arthrosis with its typical side effects. In addition, there is often pain on the outside of the knee, which increases in intensity over time and thus also represents a psychological burden.

Restricted movement is also typical of an entrapment, which significantly restricts the affected person in everyday life and professional life. Occasionally, load-related knee problems also occur that require independent treatment. Joint effusions rarely occur. In the further course of the surgical treatment of a disc meniscus, complications rarely occur.

During the surgical procedure, cartilage, ligament, mucous membrane and nerve injuries may occur. Occasionally, infections also occur which, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications such as joint stiffness. Wound healing disorders and scarring are rather rare due to the location of the meniscus and the type of intervention.

Prescribed drugs can cause side effects and interactions and trigger allergic reactions. Typical are: Gastrointestinal complaints, headaches, muscle and body aches, skin irritations such as itching and redness and occasionally serious damage to the internal organs.

When should you go to the doctor?

A disc meniscus should always be treated by a doctor. Self-healing cannot occur here, so that the patient is dependent on medical treatment. This is the only way to prevent further complications.

A doctor should be consulted early at the first signs of this condition. This leads to severe pain in the vagina, which can also spread to the neighboring regions of the body and significantly reduce the quality of life of those affected. A crack can also occur if left untreated. In some cases, limitations in movement also indicate a disc meniscus and should be evaluated by a doctor. It is not uncommon for those affected to also show discomfort and pain in their knees and legs.

At the first signs, a general practitioner or an orthopedist can be consulted. However, further treatment depends on the exact symptoms and the spread of the disease.

Treatment & Therapy

If the diagnosis of a disc meniscus is incidental because the patient is not experiencing pain, medical treatment is not usually required. However, if there are accompanying injuries or the characteristic snapping phenomenon, therapy should be carried out. This is usually done through a surgical procedure such as a partial meniscus resection.

The doctor removes the small area of ​​the meniscus that is responsible for the disc shape, resulting in the usual crescent shape. A minimally invasive arthroscopy (joint reflection) is usually sufficient for the operation. However, the partial removal must not be too extensive in order not to endanger the protective function of the meniscus.

With the help of crutches, the patient can relieve his knee after the operation. He then wears a special splint for several weeks. Physiotherapy is also important. It serves to strengthen the muscles and ensures the stability of the joint. The patient should initially hold back on sporting activities and discuss them with the doctor.


The causes of a disc meniscus are still unclear. For this reason, no meaningful preventive measures are available.


In the case of a symptomatic disc meniscus with pain, an arthroscopic partial removal of the meniscus is usually performed. Postoperatively, movement should be taken up as early as possible. Usually, this is initially a partial load on walking aids. As part of the functional follow-up treatment, a pain-adapted increase in load is carried out without an orthosis.

Physiotherapy exercises gradually lead to pain-free mobility with normal everyday stress. After the wound has healed, the attending doctor decides on the type and duration of the physiotherapeutic measures. The aim of physical therapy exercises for disc menisci is to train the knee muscles, strengthen the joint structure, strengthen the tendons and coordinate training. The physiotherapist also gives recommendations for movements and knee exercises that patients can do at home.

Lymphatic drainage and decongestants such as Voltaren or Ibuprofen are often used to speed up the healing process of a discoid meniscus. Depending on the symptoms, the ability to exercise is restored after four to eight weeks after an arthroscopic meniscus operation. Activities such as swimming, jogging, cross trainers or bicycle ergometers support the achievement of free mobility and contribute to faster rehabilitation.

Stressful sports such as contact sports should be avoided in the first three to six months. Patients also discuss with their doctor or physiotherapist which rehabilitation sports measures are useful for aftercare for a disc meniscus. If symptoms recur, changes in the knee structure and function can be detected using magnetic resonance imaging.

You can do that yourself

In the case of a disc meniscus, the loads on the knee should be reduced to the bare minimum. In everyday life, the person concerned should pay attention to the natural needs of his organism when fulfilling his obligations. Sporting activities and professional activities must be adapted to the existing possibilities and should be restructured if necessary. With the first complaints and inconveniences, rest periods are necessary. The body needs time to regenerate so that no complications occur or an increase in symptoms takes place.

If the doctor and patient decide not to initiate medical treatment due to the overall situation, the knee should be relieved immediately in everyday life at the first signs and irregularities. Training and exercise units of a physiotherapeutic therapy can also be used independently. These serve to support movement options and avoid disruptions to the locomotion system. If sporting activities are carried out, adequate protection against external influences should be worn. Strengthening the muscles is helpful in everyday life to alleviate any discomfort. If an operation has been carried out, it is particularly important to protect the injured knee during the recovery process.

In order to avoid poor posture or one-sided stress, the physical processes must be optimized and adapted to the natural needs of the organism. Massages and sufficient heat supply to the affected areas of the body help to reduce muscle problems and tension.