The Tear Behind Torn meniscus

Symptoms and diagnosis for Torn Meniscus
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By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic

Torn Meniscus Main

What is define by a Torn Meniscus?

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. When people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they are usually referring to a torn meniscus.

Occasionally menisci can develop as a block or disk shape, which is called a discoid meniscus. A discoid meniscus is more likely to tear and commonly presents in childhood.

What are some symptoms of a Torn Meniscus?

When a meniscus tear occurs, you may hear a popping sound around your knee joint. Afterward, you may experience:

  • knee pain, especially when the area is touched
  • swelling
  • difficulty moving your knee or inability to move it in a full range of motion
  • the feeling of your knee locking or catching
  • the feeling that your knee is giving way or unable to support you

You may also experience a slipping or popping sensation, which is usually an indication that a piece of cartilage has become loose and is blocking the knee joint.

“Meniscus tears are extremely common knee injuries. With proper diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, patients often return to their pre-injury abilities.”

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What types of diagnosis?

A torn meniscus often can be identified during a physical exam. Our Specialist might move your knee and leg into different positions, watch you walk and ask you to squat to help pinpoint the cause of your signs and symptoms.

Imaging tests

  • X-rays. Because a torn meniscus is made of cartilage, it won’t show up on X-rays. But X-rays can help rule out other problems with the knee that cause similar symptoms.
  • MRI. This uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of both hard and soft tissues within your knee. It’s the best imaging study to detect a torn meniscus.
  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to take images inside the body. This will determine if you have any loose cartilage that may be getting caught in your knee.

Possible treatment methods?

The treatment of torn meniscus depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.

Nonsurgical Treatment

If your tear is small and on the outer edge of the meniscus, it may not require surgical repair. As long as your symptoms do not persist and your knee is stable, nonsurgical treatment may be all you need.

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

  • Rest. Take a break from the activity that caused the injury. Our doctor may recommend that you use crutches to avoid putting weight on your leg.
  • Ice. Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
  • Compression. To prevent additional swelling and blood loss, wear an elastic compression bandage.
  • Elevation. To reduce swelling, recline when you rest, and put your leg up higher than your heart.

Surgical Treatment

If your symptoms persist with nonsurgical treatment, our Surgeon may suggest arthroscopic surgery.

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

  • Partial meniscectomy. In this procedure, the damaged meniscus tissue is trimmed away.
  • Meniscus repair. Some meniscus tears can be repaired by suturing (stitching) the torn pieces together. Whether a tear can be successfully treated with repair depends upon the type of tear, as well as the overall condition of the injured meniscus. Because the meniscus must heal back together, recovery time for a repair is much longer than from a meniscectomy.

Rehabilitation time for a meniscus repair is about 3 months. A meniscectomy requires less time for healing — approximately 3 to 4 weeks.

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