Meniscus Tear Injury: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Meniscus tear injury is one of the most commonly occurring cartilage injuries of the knee and is painful and debilitating like other knee injuries. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in your knee that stabilizes and cushions the knee joint. This article discusses the causes and symptoms of Meniscus tear injury and how to prevent and treat it.

Meniscus Tear

Causes

A twist of the knee is enough to tear the meniscus, which in some cases breaks and catches the knee joint, causing a knee joint lock-up. Meniscus injuries are common in sports that require jumping and cutting like football, basketball, volleyball, etc. The most common cause of meniscus tear is a sudden change of direction while running, which puts a lot of pressure on the knee. Meniscus weakens as you age, and thus, meniscus injuries are common in older people (above 65).

Symptoms

A knee injury can cause severe pain in the knee region, which makes it difficult for you to identify the exact problem. Here are a few symptoms that indicate a meniscus tear.

  • Severe pain in the knee
  • Swelling
  • A popping sensation in the knee region, especially during the initial stage of the injury
  • Difficulty in straightening or bending your leg
  • The knee getting locked up or stuck

Diagnosis

Knee injuries are often severe and always require medical attention. So, when people to come across such a problem, it becomes crucial for them to undertake some kind of orthopedic specialist guidance that will be able to help them get rid of the problem at the earliest. The diagnosis of meniscus consists of a thorough exam, and the doctor will order an X-ray and MRI scan to rule out the broken bones and get a detailed evaluation of the knee.

Treatment

The treatment of meniscus injury depends on a variety of factors, including the size and location of tear, and the age and activity level of the patient. The outer portion of the injured meniscus area is known as the “red zone,” and if the “red zone” has a good blood supply and the tear is small, it can heal on its own. The inner two-thirds of the meniscus is known as the “white zone,” which does not have proper blood supply; therefore, an injury in the white zone cannot heal on its own.

Therefore, proper line treatment is essential for healing the injury. Luckily, the majority of meniscus injuries do not require surgery and can be treated with RICE therapy, along with medications and exercises.

RICE Therapy

Rest: Rest is essential to eliminate pain; therefore, avoid walking and performing any activity that puts stress on your knee.

Icing: Icing helps reduce pain and swelling; therefore, ice your knee for 15-20 minutes 5-6 times a day for two to three days post-injury.

Compression: Using an elastic bandage or a neoprene type sleeve can help control swelling.

Elevation: Elevating your knee with a pillow or a stand can avoid blood flow in the downward direction, which contributes to swelling.

Medication

The primary line of treatment for meniscus injuries is Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Motrin, Aleve, and Advil for reducing pain and swelling. Since NSAIDs have side effects, they should be used occasionally and only if necessary. You can continually take these medicines only if your doctor prescribes them to you.

Exercise

You can start with an early range of motion exercises by slowly bending your knee and then straightening it again. Once some mobility is restored, you can perform stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce stress and retrieve strength. However, it is essential to get in touch with an orthopedic doctor to make sure you are not performing any exercises which can affect your healing process.

Surgery

Surgery, although not always necessary, might be essential for severe meniscus injuries. Sometimes, the injury is serious, and these conservative treatments are not enough to heal the injured area. Large or unstable tears that cause locking symptoms require surgery for removing and repairing unstable edges. The surgery is straightforward, and you will be discharged on the same day of the surgery. However, you will need to follow a line of post-surgery precautions.

Prevention

The knee joint is one of the most used joints in sports activities; therefore, meniscus injuries are difficult to avoid. However, you can take a few precautions to lower the risks of injuring your meniscus. These precautions are:

  • Warm-up up your knee before engaging in heavy activities.
  • Keep your thigh muscles strong
  • Wear comfortable and flexible shoes
  • Have a flexible body.

Conclusion

Meniscus tear injury, like any other knee injury, is painful and takes a lot of time to heal. You should take necessary precautions to lower the risk of a meniscus injury. If you suffer a meniscus injury, consult a doctor to determine the seriousness of the injury. The doctor will evaluate the meniscus region and will recommend suitable treatment.

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