Meniscus Tear

What is a Meniscus Tear?

The meniscus is a shock absorber which cushions and provides stability in the knee. 

A meniscus tear refers to a tear of this shock-absorber.

There are two types of meniscus tears:

  1. Acute tears – these are common to children and young adults who are active.
  2. Degenerative tears – These tears are due to cumulative stress and deterioration related to age. 
Meniscus Tear

What is a Meniscus Tear?

The meniscus is a shock absorber which cushions and provides stability in the knee. 

A meniscus tear refers to a tear of this shock-absorber.

There are two types of meniscus tears:

  1. Acute tears – these are common to children and young adults who are active.
  2. Degenerative tears – These tears are due to cumulative stress and deterioration related to age. 

Causes and Symptoms of Meniscus Tears

What causes Meniscus tears?

Meniscus tears are related to either trauma or age. These are the common causes:

  • Athletic activities in contact sports
  • A sudden stop or forceful twist of the knee 
  • Stress caused by heavy bodyweight or malaligned bones
  • Degeneration due to routine daily activities
  • Degeneration due to age

Symptoms of Meniscus Tear

It is common for the symptoms of a meniscus tear to be similar to those for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury. 

Here are the symptoms you may experience:

  • A popping sensation in the knee
  • Acute onset of pain in the knee
  • Swelling in the knee a few hours after the popping sensation
  • Difficulty in straightening the knee (locking)

After the injury, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Persistent pain in one side of the knee
  • Inability to fully straighten the knee
  • A sensation of the knee locking up (occasionally unable to fully straighten)

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will typically ask you about the events that brought about the injury as well as the ongoing symptoms.

Physical examination

The Orthopaedic Surgeon will specifically look for pain and other signs that would suggest that the meniscus is torn. He will also look for other causes of knee pain.

Imaging tests

MRI scan would be required to determine if the meniscus is indeed torn. It can also determine how severe the injury is.

Meniscus Tear

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will typically ask you about the events that brought about the injury as well as the ongoing symptoms.

Physical examination

The Orthopaedic Surgeon will specifically look for pain and other signs that would suggest that the meniscus is torn. He will also look for other causes of knee pain.

Imaging tests

MRI scan would be required to determine if the meniscus is indeed torn. It can also determine how severe the injury is.

Meniscus Tear

Treatment Options

Pain from meniscal tears will often resolve with time. The tears usually do not heal and may give rise to recurrent symptoms, or a progression of the tear severity.

Keep in mind that if your condition requires surgery, your Orthopaedic Surgeon should always educate you on:

  • Risks of the surgery
  • How to prepare for a surgery
  • What will be required for post-op care

Physiotherapy
Exercises performed during a physiotherapy session can help to decrease pain and improve knee function.

Painkillers
Treatment for meniscus tears usually involves painkillers in the early painful phase to help a patient manage the symptoms.

Arthroscopy/ Key-hole surgery
As meniscal tears do not commonly heal on their own, surgery may sometimes be required to restore its shock-absorption function. Without the meniscus, the knee is prone to developing osteoarthritis.

Surgery is usually in the form of a keyhole meniscus repair where the torn edges of the meniscus are stitched together. In some severe or complex tear cases, the meniscus may not be repairable. In these instances, the tear would then be trimmed until a stable rim is reached, to reduce the chances of the damage progressing in the future.

Disclaimer

Shoulder | Elbow Orthopaedic Group does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians that are referenced in this article. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her Orthopaedic Surgeon.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

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