A meniscus tear can be excruciating like many knee injuries is no exception. Meniscus injuries are one of the most common injuries to the knee cartilage. The meniscus is the piece of cartilage that stabilizes and cushions. The knee joint protects the bones from rubbing against each other. Twisting the knee can cause the meniscus to tear; sometimes, a piece of broken-off cartilage can become lodged in the knee joint and cause it to lock up. Athletes often experience meniscus injuries, particularly older athletes.
Meniscus Tear Symptoms
Signs that point to a meniscus injury include knee pain and swelling. You may also notice a popping sensation when the damage occurs. Some people also have trouble either straightening or bending the knee. Or, the knee joint locks up or become “stuck.” The pain of a meniscus tear is not always severe at first, but it will usually intensify.
Meniscus Tear Treatment
The right treatment depends on a few factors such as the location and size of the tear or the age and activity level of the patient. If the damage is in the outer section of the meniscus, it may heal on its own as this area has good blood flow. However, the inner area does not; tears in this zone will require medical treatment. That doesn’t necessarily mean surgery – there are more conservative treatments to try first, and these are often successful. Many people achieve healing by resting the knee, icing the injured area, compressing and elevating the knee, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, and doing specific exercises to strengthen and stretch the knee. If you do require surgery, the procedure is a simple one, and most patients return home the same day.
Meniscus Teat Recovery Time
The length of recovery time will differ from person to person and injury to injury. If you have surgery, full recovery can take up to six weeks depending on factors such as the type of procedure. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions for recuperating. Don’t rush it – you shouldn’t return to your normal levels of physical activity until your knee can fully bend and straighten without pain, there is no more swelling, and you feel no pain at all when you walk, run, or jump. Putting too much stress on your knee before it’s healed can exacerbate your injury.
Meniscus Tear Prevention
Most meniscus injuries are accidents and therefore difficult to prevent. However, there are some precautions you can take to minimize your risk of a meniscus tear. Keeping your leg muscles strong with regular exercise can help, as can warming up before beginning a strenuous workout. You should also avoid pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion and be sure to give yourself enough recovery time between workouts. If you want to increase the intensity at which you’re working out, do so slowly and gradually – never escalate the intensity suddenly. Stretch after exercise to keep your body flexible and make sure the shoes you’re wearing are suitable for your activity and offer enough support.
If you think you may have sustained a meniscus injury, contact Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine. We can help.