Meniscus Tear Treatment:
Do You Know Where
A meniscus tear is a common knee injury. The location and severity of
your tear will determine if you need to have surgery. Surgery or not,
though, you need to follow some basic initial treatments to get your
recovery started on the right track.
find information on the different types of torn meniscus, initial
treatment approaches, and surgical options.
Meniscus Tear Symptoms
A torn meniscus usually occurs with a twisting type of injury to your
knee. It is very common to have a meniscal tear along with other
injuries such as a
or MCL sprain
meniscus is a
piece of fibrocartilage that sits
between your femur and tibia, and helps to absorb shock and
in your knee. With twisting type motions, your meniscus can be
torn, causing significant pain and swelling. You may hear or feel a pop
with injury, and your knee may feel like it catches or needs to pop.
more about a torn meniscus
Learn more about
for your torn meniscus centers around the
of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If you have
significant pain and swelling, you should see your certified athletic
trainer or family physician for evaluation.
Your physician or athletic trainer will perform a clinical exam,
including specific tests to determine if you meniscus may be torn.
common tests are the McMurray's test and Apley's Compression and
Distraction tests. With a history of how you injured your knee,
how quickly it swelled, location of your pain, and other symptoms they
should be able to determine your exact injury. Your physician may also
recommend an MRI for the most accurate diagnosis.
Along with R.I.C.E., you can also work on keeping
your quadriceps strong, and improving your range of motion following
injury. This can be done with quad sets, straight leg raises, and heel
slides. These exercises will help reduce swelling and pain, as well as
improve your range of motion. Your certified athletic trainer or
physician will should provide you with exercises to perform after
your initial evaluation.
I recommend to my patients an ice compression wrap for all of
knee injuries. The combination of compression and cold therapy helps to
reduce pain and swelling, and improve range of motion and function.<
Types of Meniscus Tears
Your meniscus is made up of two C shaped pieces of
fibrocartilage. They are named by their position, either medial or
lateral. The medial meniscus is closer to the inside of the body, while
the lateral meniscus is located towards the outside. You may also hear
the term "horn" when your physician describes the meniscus. This refers
to the corners of the "C", either towards the back (posterior) or front
Depending on the force
of the injury, several types of tears
can occur. Longitudinal tears involve a vertical tear along the length
of the meniscus. Longitudinal tears can also become "bucket handle
tears", depending on the extent of the tear.
Radial tears are another type of meniscus tear.
These occur along the inside border of the meniscus. Significant radial
tears can produce a flap tear, or "parrot beak tear", in which a flap
of the meniscus may actually be moving into the joint space. This can
often cause the catching or clicking feelings associated with
While some meniscus injuries may not require surgery, because of
the poor blood supply of the meniscus, many tears do
require arthroscopic surgery
surgical procedures, you
may have the option for either a meniscectomy, or removal of the torn
areas of the meniscus
, or a mensicus repair
. The location of
and the size of the tear will determine which option is best for you.
Your physician will not be able to tell if a repair is possible
until he begins the procedure and can examine the meniscus with the
Treating tears in your meniscus starts with controlling the initial
pain. This is best accomplished with rest, ice, compression, and
Following an evaluation with your
certified athletic trainer
or physician, you can begin working on simple exercises to regain your
range of motion and decrease swelling.
some meniscus tears require arthroscopic surgery, because you may
have clicking, catching, popping, or swelling even after rehab. If you
think you have suffered a meniscus tear, or have significant pain and
swelling, talk with your physician or certified athletic trainer.
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