The Basics about Torn Meniscus Injury

In some cases it is pretty easy to recognize a torn meniscus injury, but sometimes the injuries feel like regular daily aches and pains so the injury may not be caught until it is so far gone that it may require surgery.

What is the Meniscus and how does it become injured?

Head of right tibia seen from above, showing m...
Head of right tibia seen from above, showing menisci and attachments of ligaments. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, let’s learn what this part of the body actually is because often time’s individuals misdiagnose themselves thinking the injury is to another part of the knee. Usually when a person says that they have damaged cartilage in their knee they are actually referring to the soft, “C” shaped discs located at the inner and outer edges of the knee. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that they have suffered a different injury such as a simple sprain or a torn ligament. Both if these injuries are significant but they are not the same.

In some cases, especially in older individuals, the injury may occur during normal activity such as twisting or turning quickly while they foot is planted. The best way to avoid this is to lift the heel as you twist or turn so as to pivot on the ball of the foot. Unfortunately, the injury may happen due to poor mechanics such as incorrect lifting of heavy objects.

Athletes, especially football players, hockey players and tennis players, tend to suffer this particular injury due to impact or poor sports mechanics during play. Not all of these injuries are severe, nor do they all require surgical treatment.

Types of tears and treatments

When you visit an orthopedic surgeon he will ask you questions regarding your torn meniscus injury in an attempt

to ascertain the severity of the injury. He will ask you what events led up to the pain you are suffering. The process of diagnostics will also involve his testing your knee for tenderness, range of motion, and stability. He will very likely order x-rays and possibly an MRI to get a better look at the tear.

Treatment options usually are based on the type and severity of the tear. As noted above, not all treatments require surgery:

Complete tear of medial meniscus with free-flo...

* Minor: The symptoms of torn meniscus injury include slight pain and swelling in the knee that appears to recover within a couple of days. The treatment for this type tear is usually ice and rest to allow the tear to heal on its own.

* Moderate: The patient notes pain on the outside or center of the knee. Swelling in the knee will occur over 2 to 3 days and the knee may become quite stiff, although walking is still possible though painful. The pain and swelling may go away after 1 or 3 weeks but may recur due to incomplete healing. Surgery is an option to repair the tear.

* Severe: The patient may have incurred a sudden and very painful sports injury or during a particular activity. Usually pieces of the torn tissue will move into the joint area, causing difficulty with straightening the leg and it may become immediately stiff or

become stiff within a few days. Also, the knee may give out completely without warning. Usually with this severe tear, surgery is advised to repair or even remove the torn tissue. The recovery may take more time, but if one follows the physical therapy regimen closely and then learns proper knee mechanics they will recover quite nicely.

Prevention is the best path

To avoid suffering a torn meniscus injury one should learn proper knee mechanics. This is especially true for athletes and individuals who perform physical labor. The best way to avoid suffering this injury is to wear the proper footwear for you type of activity, perform stretching before an activity, and learn athletic and work maneuvers that will prevent undo harm to your knees.

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