A meniscus tear happens when two menisci tear. These are c-shaped pieces of cartilage that are a sort of cushion between your thighbone and shinbone. Symptoms of this tear include sudden or worsening pain, as well as difficulty of fully extending the knee. Activities that require sudden stops, turns, and aggressive pivoting can result in a torn meniscus. This is also true of deep squatting, kneeling, or lifting something heavy. Some people are more genetically predisposed to having weaker menisci. In people that are older, degeneration of the knee can result in a torn meniscus, especially if they have osteoarthritis. This is caused when the cartilage located in the knee continuously gets thinner and weaker. A torn meniscus can happen in any age, however, tears are more common among people who are over the age of 30. These injuries are common in children who participate in organized sports at an early age, and especially if they just focus on one sport. Teenagers also experience this when participating in competitive activities.
Non surgical treatments like rest, ice, and medication are the first step of care. This will help relieve any pain caused by a torn meniscus and allow the injury to heal. Physical therapy is another important part of relieving pain and returning range of motion. It helps strengthen the muscles located around your knee to help stabilize and provide support for the knee joint. Another treatment is the use of arch supports and other types of shoe inserts that will help in distributing the force around the knee, which results in less stress in specific areas of the knee. By combining all of these treatment methods, the chances of recovering without need for surgery are high. However in more severe cases, surgical repair might be needed, especially if the affected knee remains painful and locked.
Repairing a torn meniscus is possible, especially in younger children and adults. If the tear can’t be repaired, another option is to surgically trim the meniscus. This type of surgery is generally done by using an arthroscope. It is important to remember to participate in physical therapy after surgery to optimize strength and stability in your knees.
How to Prevent it
It is important to practice active prevention of meniscus tears by having a regular exercise routine that helps strengthen your leg muscles. Doing this helps stabilize your knee joint to help protect it from injury. If you practice sports, make sure to wear protective gear or a brace while playing to help support your knee during activities that specifically raise your risk of injury. Make sure that you learn and always use proper form when playing sports or performing exercises that put additional pressure on your knee joint. Steps you can take include: warming up and stretching before exercising, always using proper gear like shoes that are specifically designed for the activity you are doing, and making sure those shoes are laced up properly.
What are the consequences of not treating it?
Leaving a meniscus tear without care is a very bad idea. If left untended, the pain will only become worse and it is likely that you will not be able to properly use your knee. It is important to go see a doctor to ensure the best healing for your knee.