Most injuries to the meniscus are a result of trauma. The menisci are vulnerable to injuries in which there is both compression and twisting across the knee. Meniscus tears are common in contact sports like football, but can occur from taking a strange fall. It is also common for the meniscus to be injured in conjunction with other knee injuries, including tears of the ACL.
If an person has experienced a meniscus tear, he or she may notice these five signs:
- A popping sensation during the injury.
- Swelling which can develop up to three days after the injury.
- Pain, generally the larger the tear the more pain you will feel.
- Difficulty bending or straightening the leg.
- A tendency for the knee to get stuck or locked up.
At first, the pain may be bearable, and you may be able to continue your activities. However, continuing to be active with a torn meniscus could have long-term effects on the ability of the meniscus to heal on its own.
Mild to moderate meniscus tears can heal without surgery. Our knee experts recommend that patients rest the knee and avoid putting weight on it as much as possible. Icing and using an elastic bandage, straps, or sleeves to compress can also control swelling.
In cases of more severe tears, meniscus repair surgery may be necessary. The decision to get a surgical repair is based on many factors, including the location of the tear and age of the patient. In patients whose meniscus is unlikely to heal on its own, surgery to remove the torn section is recommended. Though the meniscus plays an important role in the function of the human knee, once it’s torn and unable to be repaired, many of the beneficial aspects of that structure are lost.
Most people who’ve had surgery for a torn meniscus see excellent short-term results! If you are living with knee pain make your appointment now.