Do You Have a Torn Meniscus?
Are you experiencing the following symptoms? Did you recently twist your knee? If you are, it is time to see your doctor because you just may have a torn meniscus.
- Pain and tenderness in your knee
- Swelling and inflammation in your knee
- Difficulty straightening your knee
- Locking or clicking in the knee joint
- Pain when you try to straighten, turn, or raise your knee
- Pain when walking or moving
What is a Meniscus?
Your knee joint is made up of tendons, bones, and cartilage that helps your knee to flex and move. One of the most important parts of your knee is the meniscus that acts as the shock absorber in your knee and helps to absorb pressure and weight during activity. Your meniscus has two parts, the medial meniscus and lateral meniscus, which each help your knew to move and helps to distribute weight throughout your knee. The meniscus connects your femur and tibia and is essential to proper knee function. Unfortunately, it is also quite susceptible to injury. The most common knee injury is a torn meniscus in which part of all of your meniscus tears due to traumatic injury or due to degeneration due to age.
A torn meniscus is one of the most common sports injuries and happens to close to a million people every year. A meniscus usually tears when your foot is planted in one place and then your knee is twisted or pushed in another direction. This can happen when you quickly switch directions or when your knee is hit and forced in another direction. Meniscus tears come in many shapes and sizes and your meniscus can suffer a complete tear or just a partial tear. It can also be torn in many different places. Many times a torn meniscus will require surgery or treatment but small meniscus tears can sometimes be treated and heal with at home remedies.
Torn Meniscus Causes
A torn meniscus is caused primarily by two many reasons. The first and most common reason is due to twisting of the knee when your weight is planted in one place and your knee goes in another direction. This can happen while running or in team sports, especially football when your knee may be hit and forced in another direction. Many times it is also accompanied by other knee injuries like ACL or MCL tears.
The second way that a torn meniscus occurs is through a degenerative process as the knee weakens over time. The meniscus is made up of cartilage and as you age, your meniscus also ages. This causes the supple and flexible cartilage to become more brittle and weak, which causes small and large tears. These tears normally pull the meniscus away from the bone and cause pain and swelling. Since the meniscus does not have a large blood supply, it is not able to heal well on it’s own like some other areas of the body. A torn meniscus caused by degenerative processes is often able to be treated with surgery but can reoccur.
Torn Meniscus Symptoms
The most common symptoms of a torn meniscus are pain, swelling, and tightness in the knee joint. The meniscus tear can make it difficult to stretch or straighten your knee and many times causes a clicking or locking feeling. It also can sometimes cause your knee to feel unstable and you may feel wobbly when walking or running. Some people also describe the feeling of having their knee “let go” after a torn meniscus.
Torn Meniscus Treatment
Depending on the size and severity of your torn meniscus, there are different treatment options. These options may depend on age and activity level as well. The most common treatments are surgical and involve arthroscopic surgery in which the tear is mended. In some cases the meniscus tear can be treated at home or through physical therapy. When the meniscus is completely torn, it may be completely removed and there are also cases where nothing can be done.