Meniscus tears are prime knee injuries. Any activity that forces you to twist your knees, especially putting all your weight on your knees, can cause your meniscus to tear. Each of your knees has two pieces of C-shaped cartilage, which act as cushions between the tibia and femur (meniscus). A torn meniscus can cause discomfort, inflammation, and toughness. You may also feel obstructed knee movement and be unable to fully extend the knee.
What Is Meniscus Tear?
First-aid like resting, and medication, are enough to dismiss the pain of a meniscus tear. Allowing time for the injury to heal on its own is crucial. However, in other cases, the torn meniscus requires surgical repair.
There are four ligaments that can stabilize the knee joint during rest and exercise: ACL, LCL, PCL, and MCL. A cushioning is provided by cartilage for the protection of the bones from stress caused by walking, running, and climbing. Each meniscus is bent in a C shape
What exactly is a torn meniscus?
When there is a tear in the cartilage at the top edge of the tibia, allowing the femur to slide when the knee joint is moved, and the meniscus suffers a tear. Tears are generally described according to their anatomical position and C-shaped appearance. Although the physical exam can predict whether the medial or lateral meniscus is damaged, diagnostic procedures can locate a specific part of the cartilage anatomy and its appearance.
Knowing the position of the tear can help regulate how easily the injury is to heal because the blood supply to every part of the meniscus is unalike. The better the blood supply, the better the chances of recovery.
Causes of a meniscus tear
Compellingly twisting or stopping all of a sudden will cause the edge of the femur to squash the top of the tibia, making it possible to cause a tear in the meniscus cartilage. This knee injury can also occur when squatting or kneeling, especially when lifting weights. Meniscus lacerations are a common occurrence during sports activities like football and hockey. In sports such as tennis, basketball, and golf, sports that require sudden stop and rotation can also cause meniscus injuries.
Signs and Symptoms
A torn meniscus usually causes no symptoms or problems. However, some people with a torn meniscus know when they were injured. Acute attacks of knee pain can occur and patients may hear or feel the knee creak. Swelling of the knee joint caused by a meniscus tear usually takes several hours to occur, and depending on the degree of pain and fluid build-up, the knee may become difficult to move.
In some cases, the amount of swelling may not be enough to attract attention. Sometimes the patient is unaware of the initial injury but begins to notice symptoms that develop later.
Some other symptoms develop over time and may include pain while doing any or all of the following:
- Walking for long distances
How is meniscus tear diagnosed?
The diagnosis of knee injury begins with the history and physical examination. If an acute injury occurs, the doctor will ask about the mechanism of the injury to help understand the pressure on the knee. Non-athletes may recall a big turn or curve during work or housework.
The physical examination usually includes palpating the warm and tender areas of the joint, assessing the stability of the ligaments, and testing the range of motion of the knee joint.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MRI is a prime choice to conclude the presence of a meniscus tear. It is a non-invasive test that visualizes the internal structures of the knee, including cartilage and ligaments, the surface of the bones, and the muscles and tendons surrounding the knee joint. Another benefit of preoperative MRI is that by understanding the anatomy, the plastic surgeon can plan possible knee surgery and discuss alternative treatments with the patient before the operation begins.
Knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery, generally used to treat meniscal tears. An arthroscope is inserted through a small incision in the joint. An image of the inner part of the knee is projected on the screen in the exam room. This image allows the doctor to repair or trim the torn part of the meniscus during the surgery. For young patients, it is important to keep as many menisci as possible to protect the health of the knee joint.
As with any injury to the body, irritation occurs when the meniscus is damaged. If the surface that allows bones to slide against each other in the knee joint is no longer smooth, the pain will occur every time you flex or extend. A single event is enough to damage the meniscus sometimes or may gradually wear out due to age and overuse. The pain can be overwhelming at times, and it is advisable to go to a doctor for examination in such cases.
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