When you consider the amount of shock absorbing our knee joints do it is easy to see why the knees are a major site of injuries for both professional and amateur athletes. One of the most common forms of knee injury is a meniscus tear. You might ask what is meniscus? Well when someone refers to having torn cartilage in their knee they have a knee meniscus injury. When looking at injuries of the knee the meniscus are two ‘C’ shaped pieces of cartilage that function as shock absorbers between your shinbone and your thighbone. They assist in cushioning the joints against impact and help to keep the joint steady and stable. So now you know what is meniscus you need to know how injuries can occur.
How Do Injuries Happen?
Meniscus tears happen in a number of different ways and are diagnosed by how the meniscus tears look and where on the meniscus the tear occurs. Knee meniscus injury is a common sports injury often caused when athletes squat and then twist the knee, leading to a torn meniscus. Occasionally a torn meniscus can also be caused by an over enthusiastic tackle. Meniscus tears can also be caused by simple wear and tear with age, as over time the cartilage thins and becomes weakened and prone to damage.
Meniscus Tear Symptoms
Some torn meniscus signs may be ignored at the outset, disregarded as a simple muscle strain, but after a couple of days the knee will become swollen and difficult to move. Some of the most common meniscus tear symptoms are:
• Pain on movement
• Swelling and stiffness of the joint
• The sensation of your knee locking
• The feeling of your knee giving out
• Loss of the full range of movements
Is Meniscus Tear Surgery Always Required?
The need for meniscus repair surgery depends upon what type of damage has been done. If the tear is in the part of the meniscus that has a rich blood supply then the tear will quite possibly heal on its own without the need for meniscus tear surgery, this is often the case with longitudinal tears. Areas of the meniscus that do not receive such a rich blood supply will need meniscus repair surgery, which will involve having part of the damaged tissue cut away.
The best forms of non surgical treatments are easy to perform at home and involve resting, the use of ice packs, compression dressings and keeping the leg elevated to avoid further swelling. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medication can be taken regularly as part of your torn meniscus treatment and occasionally, for severe pain, cortisone injections into the knee may be prescribed.