The meniscus is a shock-absorbing cartilage located between the thighbone and shinbone. Two “c-shaped” pieces of cartilage form the meniscus; one is located on the inner edge of the knee and the other on the outer edge. The meniscus helps maintain balance, in addition to acting as a cushion during movement.
Causes of Meniscus Tears
Meniscus tears are frequently associated with high-intensity sports, such as football. Damage to the meniscus often occurs during one of the following movements:
- Twisting of the knee
- Turning quickly while the foot is planted and the knee is bent
- Improperly lifting heavy objects
Damage can also result from normal wear and tear over time. Patients over the age of 50 are more likely to experience meniscus damage due to degeneration. Over a long period, the meniscus can become soft. As the meniscus softens, minor movements such as bending down can cause tearing.
Symptoms of Meniscus Tears
Based on amount of damage, meniscus tears are categorized into three types:
- Minor tears, or partial tears, cause a small amount of pain and swelling. Surgical treatment is typically not required to relieve symptoms. Most patients will be able to return to pain free movement approximately 2 to 3 weeks after injury.
- Moderate tears cause noticeable pain, an increase in swelling over several days, stiffness, and a decrease in flexibility. Patients suffering from moderate meniscus tears can typically walk normally after sustaining damage. Symptoms can frequently be relieved without surgical treatment, but injury often reoccurs.
- Severe tears, or full tears, occur when pieces of cartilage break off and travel into other areas of the joint. Patients will often feel unstable while walking or their knee may give way as pain, swelling, and stiffness symptoms increase. Frequently, patients will be unable to straighten their leg after sustaining a full tear.
Meniscus Tear Treatment Options
Meniscus tear treatment options are based on the degree and location of damage. Dr. Greene will typically recommend conservative treatment options for patients suffering from minor or moderate meniscus tears. Conservative treatment may include rest, application of ice, bracing, or wrapping, as well as pain and anti-inflammatory medications. Many patients also benefit from physical therapy. Patients who have sustained full tears, or are unable to relieve symptoms using conservative methods, will often benefit most from surgery. During surgery, Dr. Greene will use minimally invasive techniques to repair and/or remove the damage areas. Post-op patients will often be required to wear a cast or brace to stabilize the knee and prevent re-injury. Dr. Greene will recommend a combination of physical therapy and strengthen exercises that will help return full knee strength, stability, and flexibility.
Meniscus Tears in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Dr. Craig C. Greene is a fellowship-trained, board certified surgeon specializing in sports medicine and minimally invasive surgery. The staff at the Baton Rouge Orthopaedic clinic is committed to providing the highest quality experience and treatments to patients in Baton Rouge area. For more information about meniscus tears and treatment options, schedule an appointment with Dr. Greene at the Baton Rouge Orthopaedic Clinic (225) 412-2556.