What is Meniscus Tear ?
Meniscus is c-shaped cartilage that lines the joint and acts like a shock absorber between shinbone and thighbone. There are two menisci (plural) in the knee and their main function is to distribute the weight evenly across the knee and provide stability in the knee joint.
Due to sudden twisting, lifting heavy objects or injury, meniscus develops tear and damage. There are several types of meniscus tear such as longitudinal tear, parrot-beak tear, flap tear, bucket handle tear, & mixed/complex tear. Meniscus injury have been differentiated according to 3 grades. Grades 1 and 2 are not considered serious, while Grade 3 meniscus tears usually require surgery.
Types of Meniscus Tear
What are Meniscus Tear’s Symptoms?
Individuals will feel sudden pain upon injury that will result in difficulty in straightening, bending or moving the knee. Swelling and tenderness will be also developed over the affected area. You will feel like your knee is locked when you try to move it and sense of unstablility will be experienced in the knee i.e. sensation of knee giving away. The patient will notice catching or locking of knee frequently because torn fragments of meniscus interferes with normal knee movement. Some patients complaint about popping sound but you should note that not every popping sensation is symptom of meniscus tear.
What are Meniscus Tear’s Causes?
One of the most primary causes of meniscus tear is unexpected twisting, deep squatting, aggressive pivoting, heavy lifting, over flexing and sudden stopping. Athletes involved in sports like football, soccer, basketball, tennis, baseball, etc. are most vulnerable to meniscus tear than any other athletes. Even, meniscus will be weakened due to ongoing conditions like Osteoarthritis, which is caused due to aging, degenerative changes and wear and tear.
Diagnosis of Meniscus Tear:
Doctors generally perform comprehensive physical test and also check medical history. They will inquire about how and where the injury caused? You should be honest with your doctor and tell your doctor, if you have any recurrent or chronic knee pain. They will also perform McMurray test in which the movement of knee is diagnosed with bending, rotating and straightening.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) along with X-ray are accurate diagnostic tools, which will clearly shows any injury or damage. In addition, the former is used to see the torn meniscus and latter is used to check for the signs of the arthritis.
Treatment of Meniscus Tear:
The treatment of meniscus injury depends on each individual according to the severity of the condition. However, some of the common treatment methods are:
- R.I.C.E.: Using this treatment along with other painkillers will help reduce initial pain and swelling.
- Protect: When you injure your knee or during the treatment, it’s your utmost dirty to protect your knee from further injury and damage. Avoid aggravating activities that can deteriorate a simple tear into complete rupture. Use crutches to avoid putting entire weight on the knees.
- Rest: Resting will help the pain and swelling to settle down naturally to a certain level, wherein other treatments will be applied.
- Ice: Apply ice packs to the affected area for 10-20 minutes, several times in a day. It will help reduce selling and minimize the pain. Ensure you apply ice with the help of icepacks or ice wrapped in towel. Never apply ice directly to the inured area.
- Compression: Using knee brace or elastic ace, the swelling will be localized and blood loss will be prevented.
- Elevation: Elevating above the level of the heart will reduce the swelling.
- Medications: NSAID’s like ibuprufen and aspirin will reduce the pain and swelling around the knee.
- Knee Braces: Knee brace are effective in reducing the pain and providing much needed stability to the knee joint.
- Tubigrip: Tubigrip is used to reduce the swelling as well as provide some support to the knee joint. However, it can be used used for temporary relief.
- Corticosteroid injections: They are used to reduce the inflammation.
- Physical Therapy: It will strengthen knee joint and muscles around the knee. The physiotherapist will make use of electric stimulation, cold therapy and ultra-sonography to reduce the pain and swelling at the affected joint without aggravating the symptoms.
- Exercises & Stretches: Strengthen and stretching major leg muscles such as hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles will also help minimize the pain. Some of the best exercises are leg curl, seated leg extensions, and parallel squat.
- Surgery: Knee surgery depends on the severity of the case and type of tear. Grade 1 & 2 doesn’t required surgery, while Grade 3 meniscus tears usually require surgery. Arthroscopic repair, arthroscopic partial meniscectomy and arthroscopic total meniscectomy are some of the surgeries performed.
Recovery Period for Meniscus Tear :
The recovery period depends on the severity of the condition and differs from individual to individual. However, the recovery time for a meniscus repair is about 3 months and meniscectomy may require approx. 3 to 4 weeks.
Meniscus tear is one of the most common knee injuries in many sports. Every individual should use proper gear such as athletic shoes for playing sports. Regular exercising will strengthen your leg muscles and stabilize your knee joint. Always properly warm-up and stretch before any sporting activity.
Conclusion – Meniscus Tear:
The outlook is good and satisfactory. With the use of proper diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, many patients recover from meniscus tear quite quickly.