The cyst develops in the meniscus cartilage when your joint fluid collects on the joint pad positioned on the knee. These cysts usually occur in young males. However, Tenderness directly along the joint, swelling in the knee joint, or mechanical problems are common symptoms of a meniscal cyst.

However, Treatment for a meniscal cyst depends on the size and location of the cyst. Not all meniscal cysts require surgery. If your knee is not locking up, is stable, and symptoms resolve, nonsurgical treatment may suffice. 

What are the symptoms of a Meniscal Cyst?                                       

The common symptoms of a meniscal cyst include the following. 

  • Pain, especially when standing on the affected leg.
  • Tenderness along the joint.
  • Firm bump at the site of the cyst, more commonly over the outside.
  • Occasionally, a painless bump.
  • Associated non-specific findings may include knee swelling, joint line tenderness over the affected meniscus, “locking” of the joint or ligament injury.

What causes a Meniscal Cyst? 

Meniscal cysts are caused by tears in the meniscal cartilage. This can happen after an injury or because of degeneration of the meniscus. A meniscal cyst is a pouch of joint fluid that drains from the joint. A doctor may be able to feel it, and the diagnosis can be confirmed through many different tests. 

However, Meniscal cysts are most common in 20- to 30-year-old males. Since the knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body, it makes sense that it might hurt sometimes. Although it’s a common complaint nowadays. It is usually associated with a type of meniscal tear called a horizontal cleavage tear.

Lump on the side of the knee: Is it a meniscal cyst?

A lump on the side of the knee either inside or outside is most likely a meniscal cyst on the side of the knee. However, not all lumps in the knee are meniscal cysts.

 In cases where the lump is due to a meniscal cyst, the more common symptoms include pain with standing, swelling in the knee joint, and a lump or bump on the side of the knee that can change in size.

When examining the knee, we often find a lump close to the joint line. The lump is usually soft and may or may not be painful. Also, twisting or rotating the knee can cause pain.

What are the major causes?

Disc osteophyte complex and meniscal tear are the major causes of a meniscal cyst.

What is the Posterior disc osteophyte complex?

It is the development of osteophytes (bone spurs) affecting more than one intervertebral disk or spinal vertebrae. Osteophytes or bone spurs develop in the musculoskeletal system due to normal wear and tear as you age.

Aging, degenerative disc diseases such as osteoarthritis, trauma or overuse injuries, and obesity can cause the spine to weaken. When this happens, the body produces extra bony nodules (an osteophyte or bone spur) to help reinforce the structural integrity of the spinal column or limit its ability to move.

It is possible to develop bone spurs and never feel any pain. However, when the bone spur interferes with neural activity, as it often happens with the Posterior disc osteophyte complex, a plethora of uncomfortable and painful symptoms can occur.

What are Meniscal Tears?

Meniscal cysts are most common in 20- to 30-year-old males. They are usually associated with a type of meniscal tear called a horizontal cleavage tear.

However, there are six types of meniscal tears.

  • Radial Tears.
  • Horizontal Tear.
  • Incomplete Tears.
  • Complex Tears.
  • Flap Tears.
  • Bucket Handle Tear.
  • Knee Surgeons in Central Maryland.

Your doctor may drain the fluid from the knee joint using a needle. Physical therapy. Icing, a compression wrap, and crutches may help reduce pain and swelling. By doing such measures we can stop the development of a meniscal cyst. 

How is a meniscal cyst diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually readily apparent by inspection and palpation of a discrete mass directly over a tender medial or lateral joint line. Diagnosis is confirmed by MRI, which shows both the cyst and the associated meniscus tear. When the knee becomes swollen for any reason, fluid can expand this space and form a cyst.

Are any special tests used to diagnose a meniscal cyst? Yes, MRI can confirm the diagnosis and establish the size and location of the cyst. Ultrasound can also help to visualize the cyst and guide aspiration, in which a needle is placed into the cyst to draw out its contents

Ultrasound:

A high-res musculoskeletal ultrasound can be extremely sensitive and display an anechoic or a hypoechoic lesion in the cystic nature of the lesion. It may also highlight the related meniscal tear.

How can we Treat a Meniscal cyst?

Treatment for a meniscal cyst depends on the size and location of the cyst. Not all meniscal cysts require surgery. However, To speed the recovery, you can:

  • Rest the knee. Limit activities to include walking if the knee is painful. Use crutches to help relieve pain.
  • Ice your knee to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 15-20 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days or until the pain and swelling are gone.
  • Compress your knee. Use an elastic bandage or a neoprene-type sleeve on your knee to control swelling.
  • Elevate your knee with a pillow under your heel when you’re sitting or lying down.

Anti-inflammatory medications:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Advil, Aleve, or Motrin, will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs can have side effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be only used occasionally unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.

Physical Therapy:

Use stretching and strengthening exercises to help reduce stress in your knee. Ask your doctor to recommend a physical therapist for guidance.

Quadriceps Exercises:

Your quadriceps muscle, or “the quad,” straightens your knee, and it supports the joint and your kneecap. Try the following exercises.

Quad Sets

To perform quad sets:

  1. Lie on your back with your knee out straight.
  2. Place a small rolled-up towel underneath your knee.
  3. Press the back of your knee down into the towel while tightening your quad muscle.
  4. Hold it for 5 seconds, and then slowly release the contraction.
  5. Repeat 10 times.

Modified Mini Squats

To perform mini squats in a modified position:

  1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees to about a 45-degree angle.
  3. Hold this mini-squat position for 3 seconds.
  4. Slowly stand back up straight.
  5. Repeat 10 times.

Injections:

In general, injections are useful for meniscal cysts that are large and painful. The doctor injects cortisone into the cyst to reduce inflammation and prevent a recurrence.

How Surgery can help?

Also, Your doctor may recommend surgery because:

  • You still have pain after trying other treatments, such as rest and physical therapy.
  • Your knee “locks up” instead of working normally.
  • You may be able to reduce the risk of future joint problems

However, Surgery may help you reduce the risk of other joint problems, such as osteoarthritis. There are no long-term studies to prove it, but many doctors believe that successful meniscus repair helps to evenly spread the stress placed on the knee joint.