Meniscus Tears: Symptoms and Treatments

Meniscus Tears: How to Heal And Restore After An Injury 

Image Credit: OrthoInfo – American Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons 

“Give a man health and a course to steer, and he’ll never stop to trouble about whether he’s happy or not.”- George Bernard Shaw

Professional sports require a lot of skill and effort. Sporting activities are a mixture of strength and flexibility. As athletes make various motions, such as jumping, sprinting, squats and running, watching them is a spectacular event. Every now and then however, athletes can develop injuries as they participate in active sports. The prevention of injury is key to the sustenance of an athlete’s career. For this reason, fast recovery is always an advantage in the case of an injury. 

One of the most frequently encountered injuries that athletes encounter is the meniscus tear. The injury is experienced predominantly by those who play high impact contact sports. Although athletes are the majority of sufferers, anyone who is active is prone to this injury. While mobility is possible with a meniscus tear, it is best to seek medical assistance to ensure that the condition is healed. Don’t delay treatment, in order to prevent the onset of downstream conditions such as arthritis and joint issues. If a meniscus tear propagates, then surgical intervention may be necessary. 

Understanding Your Knees

One of the best ways to understand how a meniscus tear occurs, is to understand how your body operates. Cartilage is the smooth fibrous structure that lines the bones. Within the knee joint, the menisci cartilage is located in between the bones. The function of the menisci cartilage is to stabilize the joints and manage body weight distribution through the knee joint. There are two menisci in the body. These are the lateral and medial meniscus. Statistically, the majority of injuries are found at the medial meniscus, with a focus at the posterior horn. 

When an object is stretched or strained, it does have the ability to be sheared. Within the knee, the mechanism is such that the joint is tough and strong. Flexibility is not the strong point of the knee. If the joint is rotated in the wrong direction, the action can shear the cartilage structure and damage the meniscus cartilage. 

Symptoms of a meniscus tear: 

Usually, when the meniscus tears, the patient will often feel a popping sensation. This initial condition is then coupled with: 

*Joint pain in the knee that increases with pressure on the knees

*Swelling and stiffness. Swelling is an indication of the body’s healing mechanisms. 

*Lack of control of the knee. Patients often experience the sensation of the knee either giving way, or locking when it is bent. The image below highlights the different categories of knee pain. 

meniscal tear

Treatment of a Meniscus Tear 

A meniscus tear is best diagnosed by your orthopaedic surgeon. Along with the McMurray’s Test, the initial assessment will involve checking for joint tenderness, your ability to rotate the joint, and the stability of the joint. For an internal view of the knee joint, an MRI scan or an X-ray will be administered.

While acute meniscus tears can heal with a little rest and relaxation, there are some tears that will require surgical intervention in order to heal. Acute treatment includes: 

  • Physical therapy 
  • RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

The external surface of the meniscus has a rich blood supply, and can regenerate itself or heal with surgical procedure. The internal segment of the meniscus lacks blood flow and will have to be adjusted via surgical trimming. Limited blood flow exists inside the meniscus, and alternate treatment will have to be applied in order to heal the injury. Minimally invasive surgical procedures are applied to treat the knee. 

While careful prevention will sustain health, there are those occurrences where injuries can occur. Knee pain affects many, so don’t let a meniscal tear limit your passion for sports. With the appropriate treatment plan, you’ll be as good as new in the right time. 

References: 

Penn Medicine: https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/musculoskeletal-and-rheumatology/2018/september/meniscus-tears-why-you-should-not-let-them-go-untreated

Complete Physio: https://complete-physio.co.uk/meniscal-tear/

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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