Meniscal tears are a common knee injury, especially for athletes who often twist and turn quickly, with one or both knees bent while playing or lifting a weight. The meniscus also tends to become weaker with aging, making them more prone to tearing.
The meniscus itself is a flexible C-shaped disk with a rubbery consistency that cushions the knee. There are actually two of these disks, called menisci, the plural of meniscus, on each knee. One is located at the outer edge, and the other lies on the inner side. The menisci work together to stabilize and balance you knee by helping to distribute your weight evenly. When a meniscus is torn, you knee may feel stiff and sore. It may be swollen and can make bending your knee painful, such as when rising from or moving to a seated position.
Meniscal Tears can be Mild, Moderate or Severe
The degree of pain, stiffness and swelling depends on how badly the meniscus is damaged. The meniscus does not have a strong ability to heal itself, but can scar over time, if the tear is on certain areas. This is because of the relatively poorer blood supply in the middle of the meniscus, and the fact that cartilage doesn’t heal easily.
A minor tear, on the other hand, is likely to cause only mild pain and swelling. It usually clears up in two to three weeks on its own. In order to promote healing, your doctor may recommend elevating your leg, using cold packs and gentle physical therapy, and possibly wearing a knee brace to reduce the chance of worsening the injury.
A moderate to severe meniscus tear may require surgical intervention, however, a physician specially trained in orthopedic medicine must evaluate each case. Much depends on the location, pattern and extent of the meniscal tear. If the tear occurs within the areas with the least amount of blood flow or creates a flap or piece of torn tissue that floats around the tear, it can result in a locked knee and other symptoms. Such injuries often require knee surgery to repair.
At Orthopaedic Associates, Inc., we focus on non-invasive treatment, such as targeted rehabilitation over surgery, whenever possible. Even if surgery is required to treat a meniscal tear, newer treatment approaches such as arthroscopic surgery can vastly reduce downtime.
If you, or a loved one is suffering from a knee injury, or needs treatment for a meniscal tear, or to learn more about how we are changing the face of orthopedics in Cleveland, Ohio, please contact Orthopaedic Associates at (440) 892-1440 to schedule a personalized appointment with one of our highly trained Orthopaedic Physicians. Orthopaedic Associates, specializing in you.