18 Feb Meniscus Tear
A meniscus is the tough, rubbery piece of cartilage located between the thigh and the shinbone. It acts as a shock absorber for the knee and keeps it steady by helping to balance your weight. It can become injured if a player twists awkwardly while the foot is planted down. A meniscus tear can also occur if you lift something heavy, and as you age the meniscus can become worn down and more prone to injury.
Anyone involved in activities involving aggressive twisting or pivoting of the knee is at risk for tearing a meniscus. This is especially true for athletes who participate in contact sports like football or sports that involve pivoting like basketball and tennis.
A slight meniscus tear will result in pain and swelling for 2-3 weeks. A minor tear can usually be treated with anti inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen and with the RICE method as follows:
- Rest. You may want to stay home but if you need to walk with crutches for a few days until you can walk without pain, that’s okay.
- Ice. Apply an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes every hour or two for at least the first 24 to 72 hours or until the swelling goes down, Be sure you always keep a thin layer of cloth between your skin and the ice pack.
- Compression. Wearing an ACE bandage for the first 24 to 36 hours after can help reduce the swelling.
- Elevation. To help reduce the swelling and bruising, raise your knee above the level of your heart for 2 to 3 hours a day if possible.
If you have a moderate tear, you will likely experience pain in the side or back of the knee and swelling that gets worse over 2-3 days. You may feel a sharp pain when you twist your knee, kneel, or squat. Also, your knee may feel stiff, but walking on it is still possible. These symptoms usually go away in 1-2 weeks but can come back if you overuse your knee. In fact, the pain may come back years later if the tear is not treated.
With a severe tear a piece of the menisci can move into the joint causing your knee to pop, catch or lock. You may not be able to straighten your knee out, and it will probably feel very unstable and may give out without warning. It may also swell right away or the swelling may get worse over a period of 2-3 days.
It’s important that you seek medical attention if you suspect you have a moderate to severe meniscus tear. You may need to have X-rays or an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. Depending on the severity of the meniscus tear, you may need surgery.
Proper treatment and rehabilitation exercises are important when treating meniscus tears especially after surgery. If not treated, it may lead to more knee problems in the future. If you’ve experienced a knee injury recently or in the past, call us today to set up an appointment. We can show you ways to strengthen your knees and protect yourself from future injuries.