Meniscus tear

Meniscus tear

A torn meniscus is one of the most common injuries in athletes. Torn meniscus causes several symptoms, so how does this tear happen, and how to treat it?

How to treat a Torn meniscus depends on the severity of the injury. The treatment may be straightforward, and we may need surgical intervention in severe cases.

Each of your knees has two pieces of C-shaped cartilage. These cartilages act as a gliding cushion to facilitate movement between the femur and tibia and protect your leg from the stress of carrying body weight.

What is Torn meniscus?

Torn meniscus happens As result of making a wrong move that leads to a cartilage rupture, such as a sudden change in the direction of movement that leads to a twisting of the knee, which is seen most often in football players and athletes in general.

For the elderly, degenerative diseases of the knee joint may contribute to an increased risk of torn meniscus without a severely traumatic event.

When you have torn meniscus You will feel pain and may notice redness and swelling in your knee. The feeling of these symptoms may not be immediate and may not appear until 24 hours after the injury.

Torn meniscus pictures
Image showing torn meniscus compared to normal cartilage

Symptoms of torn meniscus

Symptoms of torn meniscus may be different from one to another, depending on the severity of the injury and the degree of rupture. In mild degrees, symptoms may not be visible until two days after the injury.

Among the most crucial warning signs of a torn meniscus are the following:

  • Pain that gets worse when trying to rotate the knee
  • swelling and redness
  • Difficulty moving the joint (extension or flexion)
  • Hearing a bone crack
  • Limping while moving
  • Joint stiffness
Symptoms of torn meniscus
Symptoms of torn meniscus

Causes of torn meniscus

As mentioned earlier, sports injuries are the most common causes of a torn meniscus, and among the risk factors that increase the risk of fracture:

  • Older age (over 60 years old)
  • Arthritis or as it is known Osteoarthritis
  • previous injury of ACL rupture
  • Males are more susceptible to torn meniscus than females
  • Lifting heavy weights
  • soccer players
Causes of torn meniscus
Causes of torn meniscus

Degrees of torn meniscus

The Torn meniscus was classified into several degrees according to the severity of the cartilage rupture. The cartilage fracture degree helps determine the most appropriate treatment method for the patient and when we need to perform a surgical intervention. The grades are as follows:

First degree of Torn meniscus

A mild stage of cartilage injury often heals on its own with rest after a week or two, and there is no need for surgery. The cartilage becomes so soft that swelling may combine with a feeling of pain.

Foods With vitamin D are very beneficial in accelerating healing, in addition to the critical role of physical therapy and rehabilitation in the recovery of cartilage cuts.

Grade 2 of torn meniscus

The rupture here is of medium severity, and there may be fractures of no more than 1.5 cm in length of the cartilage, and the fracture does not reach below the bone of the cartilage.

Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications while advising the patient to rest his knee. Physiotherapy exercises also help accelerate recovery.

Third-degree meniscus tear

The rupture here is dangerous and must be given special attention. The fracture in the cartilage is more than 1.5 cm and may reach the subchondral bone.

This degree often requires surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Torn meniscus diagnosis

It is often diagnosed by a doctor Meniscus tear Through a physical examination and observation of signs and symptoms of injury, he or she will ask about a history of previous trauma as well as a few other questions about your medical history.

The orthopedist may order one of the following examinations:

X-ray imaging

It is one of the diagnostic methods used to deny the presence of other injuries such as the presence of Knee fractures It causes pain, an x-ray is taken that shows the bones of the knee joint, the meniscus does not appear on the x-ray.

MRI

It is very capable of detecting knee cartilage rupture. It is considered one of the imaging techniques that relies on directing a strong magnetic field that shows the knee's soft and hard tissue. This technique can detect the meniscus.

Treatment of torn meniscus without surgery

Choosing the appropriate treatment method depends on the rupture's location, degree, and the reasons that led to its occurrence. Surgery is not always indicated, and a mild fracture of the cartilage may heal automatically without the need for any therapeutic interventions.

Surgery is indicated in cases of an advanced torn meniscus that cannot heal automatically and is often performed using knee arthroscopy.

Some of the best non-surgical treatments for a meniscus tear in the knee include:

Treating torn meniscus with rest

Lying down and not moving the joint helps relieve knee pain and speed up the recovery of a cartilage rupture. Using crutches also helps if you suffer from significant pain while walking.

Treatment of torn meniscus with medications

The main role of drugs is to relieve pain associated with cartilage cutting, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin reduce knee swelling and post-injury pain.

Apply ice to the area of pain

Putting ice on the knee reduces the redness and swelling associated with a torn meniscus. Use a cold bag containing ice or frozen vegetables and place the load on the injury area for an estimated 20 minutes. Repeat this process several times a day.

Physical therapy

Physiotherapy strengthens the muscles to increase the rigidity and stability of the knee. Physiotherapy is performed in different ways under the supervision of specialists. You can read more about Physiotherapy.

Torn meniscus surgery

When the meniscus tear is not responsive to other treatments and no signs of incision healing appear, and the pain does not subside with time, the need for surgery arises.

The Knee cartilage surgery An effective way to repair cartilage rupture, especially in children and young adults. When the rupture cannot be repaired, the ruptured cartilage can be removed using a knee binocular.

In advanced cases of meniscus rupture associated with knee joint degeneration, the surgery becomes more complicated, and a total knee replacement may be recommended.

The torn meniscus surgery are divided into:

Arthroscopic knee cartilage repair

One of the minimally invasive and low-risk procedures for meniscus damage،A small tube endoscope equipped with a camera and lamp inserted into the knee joint through a small surgical incision.

by Knee arthroscopy Connected with a video screen, the orthopedic surgeon can see the knee joint from the inside, and he can repair or remove the meniscus tear, depending on the severity of the case.

After the surgery, surgical stitches keep the cartilage firmly in place until it heals. Healing tends to be faster in young people compared to older people.

Knee joint replacement surgery

This procedure is reserved for complex cases of severe meniscus tears with erosions, and is most often used in adults with degenerative knee osteoarthritis.

The surgeon replaces the damaged knee joint in whole or in part, then places an artificial replacement joint in the replacement area; you can read more about Knee joint replacement surgery.

In the end, a torn meniscus is a common injury when playing sports. It has different degrees and heals without treatment in the mild stages, but the advanced degrees of damage may require surgery. Strengthening the muscles supporting the knees through exercise contributes to the prevention of this rupture. And remember that consulting a doctor when feeling knee pain is essential to start treatment early before the condition develops.


Sources:

  1. Verywell Health
  2. WebMD
  3.  Mass General Brigham

Frequently Asked Questions:

Failure to treat the rupture may lead to some severe complications, such as the inability to move and stabilize the joint as usual, in addition to long-term complications such as degenerative knee arthritis.

The duration of recovery depends on the severity and type of tear, but a mild meniscus tear usually heals within 4 to 8 weeks.

Yes, the tear in the meniscus can heal a few weeks after the injury occurred on its own, but in severe degrees, the healing is slow and may require surgery.

The torn meniscus is not dangerous most of the time. Still, substantial injuries result in a wide rupture of the cartilage that may cause some problems at the level of the function of the knee joint, which requires urgent medical intervention.

You can live with a mild knee meniscus tear and it may heal on its own without even feeling its tear.

Avoiding a sports accident is challenging to apply on the ground, so you should follow these tips if you want to prevent it as much as possible from meniscus problems:

  • Strengthen the muscles supporting the knee with exercises
  • A good warm-up before starting to exercise
  • Wear appropriate shoes for the sport you are practicing
  • Avoid straining the knee by taking breaks during the exercise

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