The meniscus is a C-shaped disc of cartilage that protects the knee joint. The miniscus acts as a shock absorber for your knee, providing cushioning and reducing the impact on your knee bones and joints. While the meniscus acts to safeguard the knee, it can wear down over time, leading to injuries, arthritis, and painful tears.
Types of Meniscus Tears
There are two types of meniscus tears. A medial tear occurs on the inner part of the knee joint, while a lateral tear occurs on the outer edge of the knee joint. Meniscus tears can range from mild to severe.
Causes of Meniscus Tears
Meniscal tears can happen to anyone, but they typically occur in athletes, especially those who participate in contact sports. If the knee twists but the foot remains planted on the ground, it can lead to a meniscus tear.
Something as simple as stepping on an uneven surface can also cause a meniscal tear, especially in patients whose cartilage has been compromised by arthritis.
Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus
When you tear your meniscus, it is common to feel like something has popped or snapped in your knee. Other symptoms of a torn meniscus include:
Stiffness in the knee joint
The inability to bend or straighten your leg
The leg buckling or giving out
Treatment Options for a Torn Meniscus
From conservative treatments to surgical intervention, Alliance Orthopedics provides effective meniscal tear treatments. For mild cases, a torn meniscus may be able to heal on its own through conservative treatment options such as:
Resting the knee joint
Using ice to reduce swelling and inflammation
Keeping the knee joint elevated
Taking anti-inflammatory medications
Applying compression bandages or a knee brace
In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended to help improve your range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the knee joint.
Meniscus Repair: Surgical Treatments
Knee arthroscopy involves a surgeon making a small incision in the knee to insert a camera into the joint. Using this camera, the surgeon can diagnose and repair a torn meniscus.
There are two types of surgery: meniscus repair and a meniscectomy. During a meniscus repair, pieces of the damaged meniscus are sewn together to help encourage healing. A meniscectomy involves the removal of the torn portion of the meniscus while leaving the healthy tissue intact.
The recovery time for a torn meniscus may vary depending on the severity of the tear and the type of treatment needed. For example, mild meniscus tears that are treated conservatively can take between six to eight weeks to heal.
On the other hand, severe tears that require surgery may take four to six weeks before you can walk independently. An additional three to six months of recovery may be necessary before returning to strenuous work or sports.