As a lot of you know, Jeremy Lin, point guard for the New York Knicks, underwent surgery on his knee to repair a torn meniscus. This is really unfortunate for the Knicks because Lin was playing well, and they are fighting for the last playoff spot in the Eastern conference. Lin’s timeframe to return to action was put at 6 weeks.
Although you might not hear about meniscus injuries in sports as much as you do an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear or Achilles tendon rupture, we see a large population of individuals both athletes and non-athletes alike that suffer meniscal injuries each year. The meniscus is a “C” shaped structure in the knee composed of cartilage. It sits between your femur (the thigh bone) and tibia (the shin bone). You have two in each knee, a medial (inside) and lateral (outside) meniscus.
The meniscus has many functions, the most important being shock absorption as your leg supports your body weight, but the meniscus also aides in joint stability, joint nutrition and proprioception. The meniscus is typically torn when someone is twisting, turning, or changing directions with their foot planted on the ground. Symptoms can include swelling, pain along the joint, clicking, and even locking of the knee in some cases. The treatment options for a meniscus tear are typically one of three including rehabilitation (Physical Therapy, PT), menisectomy (removal of injured portion via arthroscopic surgery), or meniscal repair (surgical fixation via arthroscopy). There is also a less common technique called a meniscus transplant, where surgeons replace the injured meniscus with one from a cadaver.
Factors for determining which treatment option will lead to the best recovery are the location and size of the tear. The inner portion of each meniscus is avascular, meaning it does not have a blood supply. Tears in the avascular portion are often removed instead of repaired because of the limited potential to heal. Meniscal repairs are most successful when tears are in the vascular portion of the meniscus, which is located along the outside of the meniscus.
Let’s hope Lin’s injury was in an area with good blood supply, because with the amount of running, cutting, twisting, and jumping in basketball, he is going to need strong, healthy knees. I personally don’t think Jeremy Lin will see any more playing time this season, especially because if the Knicks make the playoffs, they will likely face the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat, and won’t be around for too long. Do you think Lin will make a comeback this season?