It is difficult to read a sports page in any major newspaper these days and not see a report dealing with an athlete sidelined by a knee injury. Unfortunately, knee injuries are occurring with alarming frequency at all levels of athletic participation – from “Peewee” to adult, from recreational to professional.
What You Should Know About a Torn Meniscus
Athletes injure their knees by direct trauma or a twisting type of injury. Individuals can damage their ligaments, articular cartilage, or menisci. However, a traumatic meniscal tear occurs with little or no trauma.
These degenerative tears are seen more in the older population, caused by arthritis. As part of the aging process, the water content of the menisci decreases, and a gradual weakening occurs. This leads to a decrease in the force necessary to tear a meniscus.
What is a Meniscus?
Your meniscus is crescent-shaped cartilage, cupped to help hold bones in place. You have one on each side of your joint – on the outside, the lateral meniscus, and on the side closest to your other knee, the medial meniscus.
When healthy, the meniscus absorbs shock by cushioning and distributing forces across your joint. It also helps stabilize your knee by controlling its rotation. The outer edge of the meniscus is supplied by nutrient-rich blood.
What is the Cause of a Meniscus Tear
As you age, the cartilage in the knee wears down and becomes weak. The thin layer of cartilage can wear down which causes a meniscus to tear. Arthritis also can be a contributing factor as it breaks down the cartilage in the joint. Eventually, this can cause a meniscus tear.
Athletes are also prone to meniscus tears, especially sports such as soccer, football, or basketball. The injury is often caused by a sudden twisting movement that tears the meniscus. Getting hit or tackled can also cause the knee to twist which can tear the cartilage.
How do I Know if I Have a Meniscus Tear
Say you have had a recent injury or have crippling arthritis. How do you know you have a meniscus tear? Meniscal tears can cause locking to the knee, or a buckling of the knee. Other symptoms can include:
- Feeling like your knee gives out beneath you
- Pain, stiffness, or swelling in the knee,
- Inability to fully bend or straighten the knee
Are There Complications if not Treated
If you leave a meniscus tear untreated it can lead to complications. The knee may heal on its own but the knee may be unstable. It can also increase risk for other knee injuries.
You can increase your risk of other knee injuries — like an ACL tear or other torn ligament.
How is a Meniscus Tear Diagnosed
Most meniscus tears are diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon upon a physical examination of the knee. The physician will look for swelling and test your range of motion. Imaging tests such as x-rays or MRIs can confirm the diagnosis and also assess the damage.
Knee arthroscopies can allow the physician a view of the knee and diagnosis of the injury. A knee arthroscopy is a procedure where the surgeon inserts a tiny camera called an arthroscope through a small incision in the knee. The procedure is done at outpatient surgical centers.
What is the Treatment for a Meniscus Tear?
Treatment is tailored for each individual. Conservative treatments include rest, ice, and elevation.
Physical therapy is also recommended regardless if surgery is used to repair the knee. Over the counter NSAIDs are recommended for pain control With these steps the tear may heal without the need for surgery.
More serious tears may not heal on their own and require arthroscopic surgery. Surgical repairs are very effective as the surgeon can repair or remove the injured meniscus. Once healed, the knee is stable and it is less likely the future injuries will occur.
How to Find a Sports Medicine Doctor in Boca Raton
At Orthopaedic Surgery Associates we are known for our advanced treatment methods, tailored for each patient we serve.
OSA has many of the leading orthopedic surgeons in Boynton Beach and Boca Raton. We are one of the most advanced orthopedic groups in Florida.
If you’d like to consult one of our orthopedic specialists, we are here for you. Our professional team of orthopedic physicians will take good care of you.
Our office serves patients in the Palm Beach County area with two convenient locations
Contact us for more information on how we can help you on your path to healing, and get back to your life!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.