All you need to know about Meniscus Tear Treatment
A meniscus tear, like many other knee injuries, can be excruciatingly painful and incapacitating. It is, unfortunately, quite common. In fact, a meniscal tear is one of the most typical cartilage injuries in the knee. Having said that, there are various options available for meniscus tear treatment, but that, however, is determined by the injury’s size, type, and location within the cartilage.
What is a meniscus tear?
A common injury in which forceful twisting causes a tear in certain tissue in the knee.
A meniscus tear occurs when the rubbery knee cartilage that separates the shinbone and thighbone tears. A forceful twisting or rotation of the knee can tear the meniscus. In other words, a piece of shredded cartilage becomes detached and catches in the knee joint, causing it to lock up.
Meniscus tears are common in both contact sports like football, and non-contact sports like volleyball and soccer, that require jumping and cutting. They can occur when a person abruptly changes direction while running, and they frequently occur in conjunction with other knee injuries, such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
Did you know?
Meniscus tears are particularly dangerous for older athletes because the meniscus weakens with age. They affect more than 40% of people aged 65 and above.
What causes a torn meniscus?
The meniscus usually tears during a sudden motion in which your knee twists while your foot remains planted on the ground. The tear most commonly occurs while participating in sports.
Furthermore, a simple motion such as stepping on an uneven surface can tear a meniscus in people whose cartilage has worn down (due to age or arthritis). Even when there is no knee injury, degeneration from arthritis can cause a tear.
What are the symptoms of a meniscus tear?
- Knee pain and swelling
- During the injury, there was a popping sensation.
- Leg bending and straightening difficulties
- Your knee tends to get “stuck” or lock up
The pain may not be severe at first. You could even play with the injury. However, once the inflammation sets in, your knee will most likely hurt quite a bit.
How can a meniscal tear be diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a thorough exam to diagnose a meniscus tear. They will want to know how you sustained your injury. X-rays may be required to rule out broken bones and other issues. An MRI scan, which allows for a more detailed evaluation of knee cartilage, may also be required.
What are the options for meniscus tear treatment?
As stated in the initial section of the blog, treatment for meniscal tears depends on the size and location of the injury. Also, factors like age, activity level and any associated injuries of the patient play an important role to choose an apt line of treatment. If the tear is small, then the outer portion of the meniscus still has a steady blood supply and can, at times, heal on its own, and no external medical assistance might be required.
On the other hand, the inner two-thirds of the meniscus generally do not have a good blood supply. As a result, tears in this area will not heal on their own because there are no blood vessels to bring healing nutrients in. In this case, a proper consultation from an orthopaedic expert is recommended.
Non-surgical treatment may be sufficient if your knee is not locking up, is stable, and your symptoms have resolved.
You can help your recovery by doing the following:
- Allow the knee to rest. If the knee is painful, limit your activities to walking. Crutches can help relieve pain.
- Ice your knee to reduce swelling and pain. Do it every 3-4 hours for 15-20 minutes for 2-3 days or until the pain and swelling have subsided.
- Compress your thigh. To control swelling, wrap your knee in an elastic bandage or a neoprene sleeve.
- When sitting or lying down, elevate your knee by placing a pillow under your heel.
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs. Pain and swelling can be relieved with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, these medications can cause side effects such as increased bleeding and ulcers. Unless your doctor specifically instructs you otherwise, they should only be used on occasion.
- Avoiding high-impact activities like running and jumping can also aid in healing the injury.
All conservative treatments stated above sometimes prove to be insufficient. Surgery may be required to repair or remove unstable edges if the tear is large, unstable, or causing locking symptoms. The procedure is usually straightforward, and you can usually go home the same day. If a repair is performed, you may require a brace afterward for protection.
Short-term outcomes are good to excellent for 85% to 90% of meniscus tear surgery patients.
To determine which type of surgery will be the best for you, our surgeon may carry out specific examinations or tests.
If your meniscus tear is mild (Grade 1 or 2), you may not require surgery. If it’s Grade 3, you most likely will.
Our doctor may then decide to perform any of the following procedures:
- Arthroscopic surgery – This is one of the most common surgical ways when it comes to meniscus tear treatment. Small cuts will be made in your knee by the surgeon. They’ll insert an arthroscope to examine the tear. Then, to close the tear, they’ll use small devices that look like darts. These will be absorbed by your body over time.
- Partial meniscectomy via arthroscopy – A piece of the torn meniscus will be removed by our doctor so that your knee can function normally.
- Total meniscectomy via arthroscopy – This procedure requires the removal of the entire meniscus to treat the injury.
Meniscus repair rarely involves any risk, and complications are uncommon. Antibiotics may be prescribed by the doctor to help prevent infection. Compression stockings may also be recommended to help prevent blood clots.
What is the recovery period like?
Your knee’s recovery time is governed y a variety of factors, including the severity of your meniscus tear.
In case you undergo surgery, you will need to wear a brace or cast to keep your knee stable. You’ll probably need crutches for at least a month to keep weight off your knee.
Physical therapy may be recommended by our doctor as part of your recovery. It will help you increase your range of motion and strengthen your knee. He may also recommend some exercises that you can do at home.
Besides, if it is a partial or total meniscectomy, you can expect to recover in about a month. Nonetheless, it could take up to 3 months if your whole meniscus was repaired.
Keep in mind that everyone heals at a different rate and at their own pace.
Consult our orthopaedic expert to endure the right kind of treatment
Dr Rik Kundra is a highly qualified board-certified orthopaedic surgeon specialising in meniscus tear treatment. He has been performing successful treatments for many years and has helped several patients find relief from this debilitating condition. His commitment to providing the best care possible can be seen in each of his patient’s positive results. He takes an individualised approach to every patient he sees, making sure they get the most effective and safe treatment plan tailored to their needs.
If you are encountering constant pain, signs, or symptoms of a meniscus tear, contact Dr Rik today to explore your options and determine what treatment path is right for you.
All content and media on this page are created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Meet Dr. Rik personally for appropriate medical diagnosis and advice.