A meniscus tear is usually due to aging or an injury to the knee. The meniscus is a cartilage located inside the knee joint. Specifically, it’s positioned between the bone’s cartilage surfaces for distributing weight and improving the knee joint’s stability. As you know, the job of the meniscus is extremely vital since you use your knee joint every day for many different activities.
As meniscus surgeons in Orem noted, the most common causes of a torn meniscus are degenerative processes. They’re often seen in older individuals with brittle cartilage and those with a traumatic knee injury, which is usually the case with athletes. It’s also fairly common for a torn meniscus to occur alongside other knee damage in the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
How Do I Know if I Have a Meniscus Tear?
There are three kinds of meniscus tears, with each having a different set of symptoms:
- Minor meniscus tears typically last for two to three weeks and are characterized by slight swelling and pain.
- Moderate meniscus tears are marked by pain in the center or side of the knee and swelling that gradually worsens in two to three days. Other symptoms include stiffness when bending your knee and walking as well as pain when squatting or twisting your knee. While these symptoms might go away in a week or two, it can come back when you overuse or twist your knee. Left untreated, this pain might come and go or worsen over the years.
- Severe meniscus tears could lead to torn pieces of the meniscus to penetrate the joint space, making your knee lock, pop, and crack. The affected knee might feel unsteady and give away when you least expect it. It might likewise become stiff and swollen within two to three days or following your injury.
How a Meniscus Tear is Diagnosed
A doctor or an orthopedic surgeon will need to examine your affected knee to see if a meniscus tear is what’s causing the pain. You might also need to undergo imaging tests, such as X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to determine the severity of the tear and where it is precisely.
How a Meniscus Tear is Treated
Common treatments for a torn meniscus include conservative methods such as RICE — resting, icing, compression, and elevation — therapy, and medications. These medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help alleviate swelling and pain in your knee.
Physical therapy is also recommended to help ease your pain and improve the stability and mobility of your knee. If these don’t help, you might need to undergo surgery either to repair your torn meniscus or remove a section of your meniscus.
What you need to keep in mind, however, is that your doctor will create a treatment plan based on several factors specific to your case, including the severity of the tear, the kind of tear, its location, your age, and your level of physical activity. With this in mind, once you suspect that you have a torn meniscus, it’s best that you visit an orthopedic surgeon to diagnose your condition and treat it accordingly.