Meniscus is a cartilage in the knee joint that provides a cushion from shocks. There are two menisci that exist between the knee and the shin joints. Meniscus tears are common for athletes and the elderly. When they are weakened, the meniscus can experience tears even with slight twists of the knees.
A torn meniscus can cause pain and swell in the knees. You may also experience difficulty straightening or bending your knees. The outer portion of the meniscus has a rich blood supply, and for this reason, small tears in this area often heal without any treatment. The inner meniscus, which is two-thirds of the cartilage, doesn’t have an adequate blood supply. Tears in this portion always require treatment.
The diagnosis for a torn meniscus can be done with a physical examination and the symptoms present from the injury. Your doctor may also use certain imaging tests such as X-rays or magnetic imaging testing (MRI). X-rays don’t display tears in the cartilage, but your doctor may utilize it to check on any potential underlying problems.
There are two different kinds of menisci tears and they are radial tears or flap tears. The treatment for a torn meniscus depends on the type of tear you have. It may also depend on the size and extent of the injury, a person’s age, and other injuries in the knees or the leg alongside a torn meniscus.
Treatment Options for a Torn Meniscus
Treating a minor meniscus tear may include cold compresses, anti-inflammatory medicines, and adequate rest. However, in most cases a torn meniscus requires surgery as the most viable option. Your doctor will determine the course of treatment based on the nature of the tear.
Knee Arthroscopy – It is a common procedure used to treat a torn meniscus. It is usually performed with an endoscope, which a tool with a camera on one end. The procedure requires a tiny incision through which the tear is repaired using tiny surgical instruments.
Partial Meniscectomy – The procedure involves trimming away the damaged portion of the meniscus.
Meniscus Repair– The repair is done by placing sutures in the tear. The recovery from repair is extensive than what you can expect from a meniscectomy.
The treatments used to fix a torn meniscus is incomplete without physical therapy. Once you have healed to a certain degree, you can begin undergoing therapy to help restore optimal function.
The initial exercises you perform during therapy can help increase knee mobility and strengthen the joint. As your healing progresses, more intensive exercises will be added to your routine.
What to Expect During the Recovery Process
A meniscus repair may heal in about three months. Recovery from other surgeries can take about three to four weeks. The recovery time also depends on the severity of the tear and your general health.
The kinds of physical activities you can perform during your recovery period will depend on your doctor’s recommendations. Some doctors may recommend swimming for athletes as water workouts don’t put pressure on the knee joint.
Contact Our Office
A torn meniscus can adversely affect many aspects of your normal lifestyle. It’s important that you get it treated right away. If you recently suffered from a traumatic incident that caused a torn meniscus, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kevin James.