Meniscus Tear Treatment
Knee Joint Problems and Treatment Options
The cartilage structures that surround the knee joint act as a buffer between the bones, protecting them from each other. The menisci are prone to damage when the leg twists or rotates in an uncomfortable fashion. While certain sections of the meniscus can mend on their own, surgery may be required in some situations for meniscus tear treatment. Arthroscopic knee surgery is the procedure of choice for most surgeons when surgery is required. During this type of surgery, it is not necessary to open the knee joint. This means that the area is less prone to complications.
At SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy, not only do we offer top-of-the-line treatment for a wide variety of conditions, we also offer on-site physical therapy in Dallas and Frisco. Our talented sports medicine doctors and physical therapists strive to provide only the best care to each and every patient. We offer highly individualized and custom treatments for nearly every active individual. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our trained professionals, please call our office at 469-200-2832 today.
Knee Joint Anatomy
The knee is one of the body’s biggest and most complicated joints. The knee is a joint that connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The other bones that make up the knee joint are the fibula (smaller bone that runs beside the tibia) and the patella (kneecap).
The tendons that link the knee bones to the leg muscles that move the knee joint are known as tendons. Ligaments connect the bones of the knee and provide it with support.
- The anterior cruciate ligament keeps the femur from slamming into the tibia (or the tibia sliding forward on the femur).
- The posterior cruciate ligament keeps the femur from slipping forward on the tibia as you run (or the tibia from sliding backward on the femur).
- The femur is kept from slipping side to side by the medial and lateral collateral ligaments.
The medial and lateral menisci are two C-shaped sections of cartilage that function as stress absorbers between the femur and tibia. Bursae, or fluid-filled sacs, aid in the smooth movement of the knee.
What Causes a Meniscus Tear?
Any activity that leads you to aggressively twist or rotate your knee, such as vigorous pivoting or quick stops and turns, can cause a torn meniscus. Kneeling, squatting deeply, or lifting anything heavy can all cause a torn meniscus. Degenerative changes in the knee can cause a torn meniscus in elderly individuals with little or no trauma.
Certain risk factors exist that increase the likelihood of tearing your meniscus. A torn meniscus can occur when you engage in activities that require forceful twisting and turning of the knee. Athletes, particularly those who participate in contact sports such as football or activities that require pivoting, such as tennis or basketball, are at a higher risk. A torn meniscus is more likely as you get older because of wear and tear on your knees. Obesity has the same effect.
Symptoms of Meniscus Tear
A meniscus tear, like many other knee ailments, may be painful and debilitating. Regrettably, it is extremely frequent. A meniscal tear is, in fact, one of the most common cartilage injuries in the knee, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Symptoms of a meniscus tear include the following.
- Knee pain
- A popping sensation at the moment of injury
- Difficulty straightening or bending the knee
- Sticking or “locking up” of the knee
- Instability in the knee
The discomfort may not be severe at first. You could even be able to play despite your ailment. However, once the inflammation has set in, your knee will most likely hurt a lot.
How to Diagnose a Meniscus Tear
A torn meniscus is frequently detected during a physical examination. To help determine the source of your signs and symptoms, your doctor may move your knee and leg into different positions, watch you walk, and ask you to squat. Sometimes, they will request imaging tests.
- X-ray: A torn meniscus is not visible on X-rays since it is composed of cartilage. X-rays, however, can help rule out other knee issues that cause similar symptoms.
- MRI: This procedure utilizes radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create detailed pictures of your knee’s hard and soft structures. It’s the most accurate imaging test for detecting a torn meniscus.
In other cases, doctors use arthroscopy to determine the source of your symptoms. A small incision near your knee is used to implant the arthroscope. The gadget is equipped with a light and a tiny camera that projects an enlarged image of the inside of your knee onto a display. To trim or repair the rip, surgical tools can be introduced through the arthroscope or through additional tiny incisions in your knee.
Meniscus Tear Treatment
Depending on the kind, size, and location of your tear, conservative meniscus tear treatment is generally the first step.
Tears caused by arthritis generally improve over time as the arthritis is treated, therefore surgery is rarely necessary. Many other rips that aren’t linked with locking or a block to knee mobility will get better with time and won’t require surgery. Doctors usually recommend the following for mild cases.
- Rest: Avoid any action that causes you to twist, spin, or pivot your knee, since this can worsen your discomfort. Crutches can relieve strain on your knee and aid recovery if your pain is severe.
- Ice: Knee discomfort and edema can be reduced by using ice. For roughly 15 minutes at a time, use a cold pack, a bag of frozen vegetables, or a towel covered with ice cubes while keeping your knee elevated. Do it every four to six hours for the first day or two, then as needed after that.
- Medication: Knee discomfort can also be relieved with over-the-counter pain medications.
To aid in stabilization and support of the knee joint, physical therapy can help you develop the muscles surrounding your knee and in your legs.
Meniscus Tear Surgery
Your doctor may suggest surgery if your knee remains uncomfortable despite rehabilitative treatment or if it locks. A torn meniscus can occasionally be repaired, especially in children and young people.
If the tear cannot be healed, the meniscus may be surgically trimmed, potentially using an arthroscope to make small incisions. You’ll need to undertake workouts after surgery to maintain and improve knee strength and stability.
Your doctor may prescribe a knee replacement if you have severe degenerative arthritis. A meniscus transplant may be acceptable for younger patients who have signs and symptoms following surgery but no advanced arthritis. A cadaveric meniscus is transplanted during the procedure. Speak with your doctor about which form of meniscus tear treatment is right for you.
Torn Meniscus Recovery Time
The most often treated knee ailments are meniscus tears. If your meniscus tear is managed conservatively, without surgery, recovery will take around 6 to 8 weeks. The length of time depends on the following variables.
- Type and severity of the tear
- How long the symptoms last
With surgery, recovery lasts a longer amount of time. To keep your knee stable, you may need to wear a brace or cast. To keep weight off your knee, you’ll probably need crutches for at least a month.
If you undergo a partial or whole meniscectomy, your recovery time should be around a month. It might take up to three months for your meniscus to heal if it was repaired.
How to Heal a Torn Meniscus Naturally
We recommend taking certain steps to help with recovery in cases of a mild tear.
- Active rest. The first step is to quit any abrupt cutting motions (such as in soccer), but continue to engage in mild activity such as walks or swimming. These are ideal because they are non-weight bearing and will not put any stress on the knee.
- Range of motion exercises. The next step is to preserve or enhance the damaged knee’s range of motion by focusing on activities that allow you to sit or lie down and gently bend and straighten the knee as far as is comfortable. This aids in healing by preventing stiffness and improving blood flow.
- Strength training. It’s also critical to keep or gain strength in the muscles that surround the knee, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles, which all work together to support the knee and avoid a future torn meniscus. Stair climbing, leg presses, and lunges are all acceptable exercises as long as there is no discomfort.
- Balance training. Proprioception in the knee and leg is often incorrect following a meniscus injury, compromising your balance and perhaps leading to additional injuries and instability in the knee. Balance exercises such as standing on one leg and calf lifts on one leg are simple strategies to improve this.
Meniscus Tear Prevention
It is important that the patient follows the doctor’s exercise regimen and takes the necessary safety precautions while being as active as possible. If your doctor places limitations on your activities, you must recognize that these limitations are necessary for the meniscus to recover correctly. Individuals should only resume strenuous physical exercise after consulting with their doctor.
Contact SPORT for Meniscus Tear Treatment Today
At SPORT, we prioritize your needs and recovery above all else. Trust that whatever our trained professionals determine is best for you, we’ll work with you to make it happen. Whether you need physical therapy in Frisco or Dallas, rotator cuff repair surgery, or if your injury requires another form of treatment, we’re here for you. To set up an appointment with one of our Dallas orthopedic specialists, please call our office at 469-200-2832 today.