A torn meniscus is a common knee injury, causing knee pain and limited mobility. The meniscus is a wedge shaped piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your thighbone and shinbone. Menisci tear in different ways. Sports injuries often cause sudden meniscus tears from direct contact, or as a result of twisting or turning the knee. Older people are more likely to have degenerative meniscus tears. As the cartilage weakens over time, twisting while squatting or getting up from a chair can cause a tear.
Symptoms of Meniscus Tears:
- Feeling a “pop” in your knee
- Knee pain
- Stiffness and swelling on or around knee
- Catching or locking of your knee
- Limited range of motion
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Along with the type of meniscus tear you have, your age, activity level, and any related injuries will factor into your treatment plan. Nonsurgical treatment includes the RICE protocol and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. RICE is a protocol for treating acute injury that is used to counteract the body’s initial response to injury. RICE is an acronym for rest, ice, compression, and elevation:
Rest – Avoid activity that is painful or that caused your injury.
Ice – Use ice for the first 48-72 hours after injury. The duration of treatment for ice is 20 minutes “on” followed by one hour “off.”
Compression – Apply an ACE wrap to the injured body part, especially when you are more active.
Elevation – Elevate the injured body part above your heart.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. They are popular treatments for muscular aches and pains as well as arthritis and help in reducing swelling, pain, and joint stiffness.
Surgical treatment usually involves arthroscopic surgery. An orthopedic surgeon will insert a small camera and instruments in two or three tiny incisions around your knee, repair the meniscus, and/or trim away damaged tissue.