What is a Meniscus Tear?
Two pieces of rubbery cartilage, known as menisci, are wedged between your thighbone and shinbone. With one on the outer edge of the knee and the other on the inner edge of the knee, the menisci cushion these two prominent leg bones and absorb shock in between. Both menisci are tough and, when properly functioning, keep the knee joint stable. However, the meniscus can tear, causing damage to the knee joint and disturbing proper weight distribution and alignment.
Meniscus tears can occur through either sudden injury or gradual degeneration. Usually, this condition stems from:
- Sports-related injuries
- Sudden twisting
- Direct, forceful contact or trauma
- Weakened, degenerating cartilage and tissues (usually as a result of age)
Although some people continue participating in their everyday activities after tearing a meniscus, the knee will usually become swollen and stiff within 2 – 3 days. Some patients may also hear a popping or snapping sound as the meniscus tears.
Additional signs of a meniscus tear include:
- The sensation that your knee is “giving out”
- Limited range of motion and mobility
- Recurring discomfort in the affected region
- “Catching” or “locking” knees
- Sharp pains
The OrthoCARE Treatment Approach
Although meniscus tears are very common, particularly among athletes, they can cause significant pain and long-term effects when not properly treated. If you suspect you may be suffering from a meniscus tear, it is best to seek consult with an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible.
As division of the physician-owned, vertically-integrated Lumin Health system, OrthoCARE Institute provides innovative, patient-centric treatment for a variety of ailments and injuries, including meniscus tears. Upon your visit, an experienced orthopedic surgeon will carefully and thoroughly examine your knee to determine the severity of your tear. To rule out broken bones and other orthopedic issues, an X-ray or other diagnostic test may be necessary. Your doctor can then create an advanced treatment plan designed for your unique goals and health history. Age, activity level, related injuries and the size and severity of the meniscus tear will all play a role in deciding which methods to implement into treatment.
In order to encourage optimal healing, we generally recommend conservative treatments before resorting to surgical options. For small tears, we may recommend pain management techniques while allowing the tear to heal naturally under careful monitoring. If the tear has reached the inner portions of the meniscus, which receive minimal blood flow, it will not heal on its own and will most likely require surgery to repair.
The goal of any meniscus tear procedure is to restore or trim the injured meniscus. Using an arthroscope and small incisions, minimally invasive surgery dramatically reduces the risk of scarring and trauma to surrounding areas. It also minimizes blood loss and significantly reduces the lengthy recovery times often seen in traditional open surgeries.
For more information about meniscus tears, minimally invasive surgery or OrthoCARE Institute, contact us by calling 972-573-7802 or by filling out the form on our Contact Us page. We look forward to meeting with you and helping you regain healthy, active knees!