Meniscal tears commonly called cartilage tears often present themselves to me. In a broad sense they can be labelled obstructive and non-obstructive meaning that in obstructive ones the tears themselves fold over and get in the way of the joint and cause locking, with a patient often not being able to fully extend the knee. This is much commoner in earlier life up to the age of 35 and is commonly referred to as a bucket handle tear.
In middle age and older non-obstructive tears are relatively more common and occurs when the meniscus frays around the edges and splits.
Obstructive tears are more likely to require surgery to clean them out, so no bits of the meniscus get in the way of the joint as this causes joint damage and the symptoms of locking or giving way.
A recent study has shown where patients with degenerative tears were assigned to a structured program of physical therapy this was just as effective as arthroscopic surgery and without risk of surgical side effects. Findings are consisted that non-obstructive tears should not be the first treatment course in middle age or over older patients.
So what sort of treatment is best to manage meniscal / cartilage tears? The degenerative tears are more likely to be manage with a combination of Osteopathy and or Acupuncture which can in turn both help pain and return joint function to normal faster than if left alone and would certainly help reduce the need for surgery.