Meniscus tear causes, symptoms and treatment

Do love to run? Love to workout? Or love to dance? But are you unable to do so because of the pain on sides of your knees?

Well, you might be having a tear in the meniscus. Most people who suffer from this condition do not realize it till it’s late. The meniscus is cartilage in your knee joint that acts as a cushion between the bones and stabilizes your knee joint. It helps to preserve your bones from wear and tear condition. But a bad twist of your knee can damage the meniscus. 

A torn meniscus is among the common injuries that happen to the knee joint. Any action that makes you to twist your knee forcefully, particularly when placing your whole weight on it, your meniscus tend to tear.

What is a torn meniscus?

Your knee is cushioned by two C-shaped pieces of cartilage called meniscus. They are located between your shinbone and thighbone. The menisci act like a disc, which keeps your knee straight and helps with the knees’ movements.

A torn meniscus is a tear in the ‘C’ shaped part of cartilage in the knee. It causes pain which ranges from mild to severe. The meniscus is torn due to uncontrolled movements of the knee. Usually, a torn meniscus pain reduces, and there is complete recovery in a few weeks. With age, the menisci get weaker, and if the disc is torn, it takes a long time to treat torn meniscus pain.

Symptoms of a torn meniscus

If you suffer from a meniscus tear, probably you might have the signs and symptoms mentioned below:

  • Knee pain
  • A weak feeling in your knees
  • A popping sensation
  • Swelling on the knees
  • Stiffness in your knee
  • Discomfort or restricted knee movements
  • Unable to straighten your knee

Causes of a meniscus tear

A meniscus tear happens when you rotate your knee beyond its natural range, like aggressive pivoting or stopping suddenly and turning. Even kneeling, squatting deeply or lifting heavy weights can also lead to a meniscus tear.

Degenerative conditions of the knee in older adults might also contribute to a meniscus tear.

Risk factors

Certain sporting activities involving forceful rotating and turning of the knee joint puts you at more risk of a meniscus tear. Especially athletic people who are playing contact sports like cricket, football, rugby, or any other sporting activity that involve turning the knee etc., are more vulnerable to this condition.

Increasing age increases the risk of the meniscus tear. So does excess weight or obesity.

Diagnosis of meniscus tear

A doctor on listening about the symptoms of a torn meniscus, he thoroughly examines a patient. The diagnosis includes the following:

  1.  A physical check-up of the patient and the legs’ movement with an observation of the speed and the agility is an important part of the diagnosis procedure.
  2. Sometimes, an x-ray is done in order to determine the exact nature of the pain and the extent to which the menisci have been damaged.
  3. An MRI scan might be done if an orthopaedic surgeon is unsure whether the discomfort is due to a torn meniscus or another problem.

Treatment for Torn Meniscus Pain:

When it comes to the treatment for torn meniscus pain, there are many factors that the doctors look into before determining the treatment. The factors include the patient’s age, the extent of the damage and the type of tear. 

Fortunately, every meniscal tear doesn’t need surgery to fix. If your knee is stable without locking up, conservative treatment may suffice. The recovery can be speed up by:

Resting your knee – Limit your activities if your knee is painful. Take rest and use crutches while walking to help relieve from pain.

Icing your knee – it reduces pain & inflammation. Place ice on your knee 15-20 minutes for every 3-4 hours, around 2 to 3 days or until your pain & swelling subsides.

Compressing your knee – An elastic bandage or a neoprene sleeve around the knee to manage inflammation.

Elevating your knee – place a pillow below the heel while you sit or lye down.

Medication – Over-the-counter(OTC) and NSAIDs medicines such as Advil and Aleve can help to relieve from pain and swelling.

Therapy – Physical therapy and some strengthening exercises can make your muscles around your knee strong and also stabilizes your knee joint.

Surgery for a meniscus tear

If the condition still persists despite of all conservative treatments or if your knee gets locked, you might be recommend undergoing surgery. In children and young adults, there’s a possibility to repair your torn meniscus.

If the damaged meniscus can’t be fixed, then it might be trimmed surgically, using an arthroscope by making small incisions. After surgery, the exercises during rehab helps you to regain and maintain your knee strength and stability.

In case of advanced degenerative arthritis, it is recommended to consider a knee replacement surgery. A meniscus transplant is also done in younger people, and the surgery requires transplanting a meniscus from a cadaver. 

It is important to get treated for your meniscus tear by visiting a reputed orthopaedic surgeon like Dr Ajay Kumar Tiwari. He treated numerous people who have been grieved due to torn meniscus pain.

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