Meniscus tears

Meniscus tears

Knee ​Condition

Meniscus tear

Your knee is the largest joint in your body and one of the most complex. Because you use it so much, you are vulnerable to injury. As it is made up of so many parts, many different things can be disrupted.

Meniscus tears are among the most common knee injuries. Athletes, particularly those who play contact sports, are at risk for meniscus tears. However, anyone at any age can tear a meniscus.

Anatomy

Three bones meet to form your knee joint: your thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia), and kneecap (patella).

Two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage act as “shock absorbers” between your thighbone and shinbone. These are called meniscus. They are tough and rubbery to help cushion the joint and keep it stable.

Causes

Sudden meniscus tears often happen during sports. Players may squat and twist the knee, causing a tear. Direct contact, like a tackle, is sometimes involved.

Older people are more likely to have degenerative meniscus tears. Cartilage weakens and wears thin over time. Aged, worn tissue is more prone to tears. Just an awkward twist when getting up from a chair may be enough to cause a tear, if the menisci have weakened with age.

Symptoms
You might feel a “pop” when you tear a meniscus. Most people can still walk on their injured knee. Many athletes keep playing with a tear. Over 2 to 3 days, your knee will gradually become more stiff and swollen. The most common symptoms of meniscus tear are:
  • Pain
  • Stiffness and swelling
  • Catching or locking of your knee
  • The sensation of your knee “giving way”
  • You are not able to move your knee through its full range of motion
  Without treatment, a piece of meniscus may come loose and drift into the joint. This can cause your knee to slip, pop, or lock.
Treatment

How your orthopaedic surgeon treats your tear will depend on the type of tear you have, its size, and location. Along with the type of tear you have, your age, activity level, and any related injuries will factor into your treatment plan.

RICE

The RICE protocol is effective for most sports-related injuries. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen reduce pain and swelling

Surgical 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 it, a miniature camera is inserted through a small incision (portal). This provides a clear view of the inside of the knee.

Your orthopaedic surgeon inserts miniature surgical instruments through other portals to trim or repair the tear.