Meniscus Tear Knee Injuries – What You Need to Know
Meniscus tears are among the most common knee injuries. Athletes, particularly those who play contact sports, are at risk for meniscus tears. However, even those who do not consider themselves athletes can tear a meniscus. Meniscus (menisci for plural) tears can happen during mundane activities such as getting in and out of the car or squatting or more lively activities such as skiing, dancing or racquetball.
Your menisci act as “shock absorbers” between your thighbone and shinbone. They also help to transmit weight from one bone to another and play an important role in knee stability. Tears can happen as a result of a specific trauma or degenerative changes that happen over time. An awkward twist when getting up from a chair may be enough to cause a tear in an aging meniscus.
You might feel a “pop” when you tear the meniscus. Most people can still walk on their injured knee and many athletes are able to keep playing with a tear. Over 2 to 3 days, however, the knee will gradually become stiffer and more swollen.
The most common symptoms of a meniscus tear are:
- Stiffness and swelling
- Catching or locking of your knee
- The sensation of your knee “giving way”
- Inability to move your knee through its full range of motion
Many meniscus tears will not need immediate surgery. If your symptoms do not persist and you have no locking or swelling of the knee, your doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatment.
If your symptoms persist with nonsurgical treatment, your doctor may suggest arthroscopic surgery.
- Knee arthroscopy is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures. In this procedure, the surgeon inserts a miniature camera through a small incision (portal) in the knee. This provides a clear view of the inside of the knee. The surgeon then inserts surgical instruments through two or three other small portals to trim or repair the tear.
- Partial meniscectomy is a procedure where the damaged meniscus tissue is trimmed away. This procedure typically allows for immediate weight bearing, and full range of motion soon after surgery.
- Meniscus repairs involve repairing the meniscus by suturing (stitching) the torn pieces together. Whether a tear can be successfully repaired depends upon the type of tear, as well as the overall condition of the injured meniscus. Because the meniscus must heal back together, recovery time for a repair is longer than for a meniscectomy.
Once the initial healing is complete, your doctor will prescribe rehabilitation exercises. Regular exercise to restore your knee mobility and strength is necessary.
Don’t let your knee pain force you to give up your favorite sport or activity. If you feel you require surgery or would like to consider nonsurgical treatment options for your knee injury, request an appointment through our online form or call the office to schedule an appointment today.