Athletes are not the only ones at risk of a torn meniscus; in fact, it can happen to anyone. Heavy lifting and age often play a factor in this type of injury, but it can be avoided. In order to prevent menisci tears, it’s important to first understand what a meniscus is and how this injury can occur.
What is a Meniscus?
The knees each have two c-shaped pieces of cartilage between the femur and the tibia. These pieces of cartilage, known as the menisci, serve as cushions and shock absorbers for your knees. The menisci works to distribute force evenly through the knee and help in the lubrication process by moving fluid around the knee.
Tearing of the menisci can occur when lifting, squatting or twisting the knee – often in sports. When the meniscus experiences trauma or force, it can tear in different ways, requiring a wide variety of options for torn meniscus treatment. Tears can range from minor to severe; severe tears are more likely to require surgical intervention for repair.
Torn Meniscus Symptoms and Treatment
You may experience a range of torn meniscus symptoms, depending on the severity of the injury. Minor tears will usually manifest in pain and swelling that, when treated properly, can go away in about 2-3 weeks. Depending on the location of the tear as well as the severity, it’s possible for a meniscus tear to heal on its own with proper rest and care.
Moderate and severe menisci tears tend to be far more painful and debilitating. If you have a moderate or severe tear, you may experience intense pain and increased swelling over a number of days. You may also experience a stiff knee that is hard to bend or straighten. In severe tears, the cartilage has moved out of place from the joint, making your knee lock, pop or catch. Severe tears will give you a feeling that your knee will give or that you’re not able to walk with stability. In those cases, surgery may be required as the primary option to repair or remove the damaged cartilage and prevent any more damage.
Surgery may also be necessary depending upon the location of the tear. If it’s located in the “red zone,” the area with the most blood flow, the tear may have a chance to heal on its own. However, a tear in the “white zone,” the non-vascular area of the cartilage, is usually beyond repair and needs to be removed. For more information about torn meniscus treatment options, visit the Minimally Invasive Orthopedic Relief website.