What is Meniscus Tear?
A meniscus tear is a very common knee injury. It is a rubbery, C-shaped disc that cushions the knee. There are two menisci (plural form of meniscus) on each knee. One is located at the outer edge of the knee and one on the inner edge. They help to keep you knee steady by balancing the body’s weight across the knee. A torn meniscus will prevent your knee from working properly.
What are the causes for Meniscus Tear?
A meniscus tear is usually the after effect of twisting or turning too quickly, often with the foot still planted while the knee is bent. It can happen when you lift heavy items or during sporting activities. As your age, your meniscus gets worn out, causing it to tear easily.
There are three types of meniscus tears, with each having its own set of symptoms.
With small tears, you may have minimal pain at the time of injury. Slight swelling often develops gradually over the next several days. Many times you can still walk with minimal pain, although pain increases when you squat, lift, or rise from a seated position. These symptoms will usually subside in about 2 to 3 weeks.
In a moderate tear, you will feel pain at the side or in the center of the knee, depending on where the tear is. In most cases, you would still be able to walk. Swelling usually increases gradually over the next 2 to 3 days and may make the knee feel stiff and also restrict movement. You will feel a sharp pain when twisting or squatting. Symptoms may subside in 1 to 2 weeks but recur with activities that involve twisting or from overexertion. The pain may come and go over a period of years if left untreated.
Larger tears will usually cause more pain and immediate swelling and stiffness of the knee. Swelling can develop over 2 to 3 days. Pieces of the torn meniscus might float into the joint space. This can make the knee catch, pop, or lock. You may not be able to straighten your knee. The knee can also feel “wobbly” or unstable, or give way without warning. If other injuries occurred with the meniscus tear, especially torn ligaments, you may have increased pain, swelling, a feeling that the knee is unstable, and face difficulty walking.
If you are older and your meniscus is worn out, you may not be able to determine what caused the tear. You may only encounter the pain after you get up from a squatting position. Pain and slight swelling are often the only symptoms.
What are the test and diagnosis for Meniscus Tear?
Your doctor will question you regarding your past injuries and what activities caused your knee to hurt. A physical exam will help your doctor find out if a torn meniscus is the cause of your pain. Your doctor will examine both knees and look for tenderness, measure the range of motion, and see how stable your knee is. X-rays are usually done as well.
You may be required to consult with an orthopedic surgeon for further testing. These tests may include an MRI, which can give a clearer picture of where the tear is and how serious it might be.
How your doctor treats your meniscus tear depends on several factors, such as the type of tear, where is it located, and its severity. Your age and how active you are may also affect the treatment options.
What are the treatment for Meniscus Tear?
Treatment may include:
· Rest, ice, wrapping the knee with an elastic bandage, and propping up the leg on pillows.
· Physical therapy.
· Surgery to repair the meniscus.
· Surgery to remove a part of the meniscus.