The Interplay of Biomechanical and Biological Changes Following Meniscus Injury

Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2023 Feb;25(2):35-46. doi: 10.1007/s11926-022-01093-3. Epub 2022 Dec 7.


Purpose of review: Meniscus injury often leads to joint degeneration and post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) development. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to outline the current understanding of biomechanical and biological repercussions following meniscus injury and how these changes impact meniscus repair and PTOA development. Moreover, we identify key gaps in knowledge that must be further investigated to improve meniscus healing and prevent PTOA.

Recent findings: Following meniscus injury, both biomechanical and biological alterations frequently occur in multiple tissues in the joint. Biomechanically, meniscus tears compromise the ability of the meniscus to transfer load in the joint, making the cartilage more vulnerable to increased strain. Biologically, the post-injury environment is often characterized by an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines, catabolic enzymes, and immune cells. These multi-faceted changes have a significant interplay and result in an environment that opposes tissue repair and contributes to PTOA development. Additionally, degenerative changes associated with OA may cause a feedback cycle, negatively impacting the healing capacity of the meniscus. Strides have been made towards understanding post-injury biological and biomechanical changes in the joint, their interplay, and how they affect healing and PTOA development. However, in order to improve clinical treatments to promote meniscus healing and prevent PTOA development, there is an urgent need to understand the physiologic changes in the joint following injury. In particular, work is needed on the in vivo characterization of the temporal biomechanical and biological changes that occur in patients following meniscus injury and how these changes contribute to PTOA development.

Keywords: Cartilage; Inflammation; Loading; Mechanics; Post-traumatic osteoarthritis; Repair.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee* / adverse effects
  • Cartilage, Articular* / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Meniscus* / injuries
  • Osteoarthritis* / etiology
  • Osteoarthritis* / metabolism


  • Cytokines