Seeking Treatment For A Meniscus Tear: Why Its Important
You may be tempted to tough it out and continue your daily activities with a meniscus tear. However, doing so can result in lasting consequences. An untreated meniscus tear can cause more serious knee issues such as arthritis. Further, carrying on with activities can potentially make a meniscus tear more complicated and severe by pulling cartilage fragments into the joint.
Ultimately, finding out if torn meniscus surgery is needed requires examination of the knee by an orthopedic specialist. A skilled orthopedic surgeon can determine the location and severity of your meniscus tear using advanced technology. Taking these findings into account, they will then suggest an individualized treatment plan.
How Do Meniscal Tears Occur
Meniscal tears can be degenerative or traumatic and it can occur in a number of ways. It can happen on its own or in combination with a ligamentous injury.
The most common cause is usually damaged by a twist occurring on a slightly bent position of the knee.
A partial or total tear of a meniscus may occur when a person quickly twists or rotates the upper leg while the foot stays planted.
Degenerative tears occur as part of progressive wear in the whole joint or as a result of habitual, prolonged squatting. In the older adult, the tear may be due to a natural degeneration of the menisci that occurs with age. The medial meniscus is more commonly affected than the lateral meniscus, whilst tears in both menisci are much less common.
What Is A Meniscus
The meniscus is a piece a cartilage that sits in the knee between the bones of the thigh and the shin . Its made of a similar type of cartilage found in our ears and is just as sturdy.
The meniscus acts as a shock absorber in the knee and provides some stability too. When the meniscus is not working properly or has been injured or removed, more shock is transferred to the bones in the knee . This results in increased wear and tear and eventually osteoarthritis. People who have had meniscal surgery are 14 times more likely to develop osteoarthritis than people with a meniscus.
- The meniscus has no nerve supply. This means you can cut into the meniscus with a pair of scissors and feel NO pain
- However, meniscal injuries can result in pulling on the lining of the knee which is extremely sensitive to pain. The injury also stimulates inflammation which causes pain and swelling
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How Is A Torn Meniscus Diagnosed
When first diagnosing a torn meniscus, your doctor will take an oral history and perform a physical exam. The doctor will look for swelling, loss of motion, pain when twisting the body, and tenderness on the joint line.
Then, they will probably order imaging tests. While X-rays will not reveal damage to the cartilage, they may be used to rule out other problems. An MRI is the best imaging test to confirm a torn meniscus, as it shows both hard and soft tissues in the knee. An MRI can determine the severity of the tear and what treatment, if any, is needed.
Meniscal tears are typically described and classified by their location. They are most commonly found on the medial of the knee joint.According to a 2018 article by the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics, fully diagnosing and classifying a meniscus tear requires assessing the tears depth, pattern, length, location, and the quality of the meniscal tissue.
What Is A Meniscus Tear
A meniscus tear is an injury that happens due to the twisting motions in your knees. Meniscus tears are the most common type of knee injury for athletes. They are especially common in athletes that play football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, hockey and tennis, where they constantly bend their knees.
Meniscus tears can occur when young athletes suddenly change directions, land harshly after a jump or get direct impact from the side of their knee.
It also occurs in older patients whose meniscus has started to degenerate and is more likely to tear when twisted. The menisci act as a shock-absorber, and they weaken over time as people get older. Completing the same movements repeatedly as well as bearing prolonged weight can cause a torn meniscus in older patients.
A tear can be minor or complex, and complex tears usually require surgery. Similarly, if a minor tear is not healing on its own, medical attention may be necessary.
Meniscus tears can occur in three ways:
- Longitudinal: This is also known as a displaced tear or bucket handle tear.
- Horizontal: A horizontal tear is also called a flap tear.
- Radial: This type of tear is also known as a parrot beak tear.
A complex tear occurs when two of these shapes cause damage in more than one direction.
Meniscus Tear Recovery Time
In general, for an acute meniscus tear, the entire healing process might take 9 months for 80% of people.
However, this can be sped up through optimising recovery using the strategies above and below, including the use of our complete guide to maximising knee health here.
Of course, not everyone will get better naturally and some will need surgery.
However, a natural meniscus tear recovery time of nine months without surgery is the average, so some people will recover quicker and some will take longer.
The reason meniscus tears take so long to heal is because the meniscus has a very poor blood supply.
In order for healing to occur, blood must diffuse in and out of the knee via the bones of the knee joint, which takes a lot longer than it would if there was a direct blood vessel.
For a degenerative meniscus tear, healing will not occur in the same fashion as in an acute meniscal tear.
Luckily, it is still possible to get a degenerative meniscus tear better but this usually occurs by optimising the function of the knee which encourages symptoms to disappear, even if the underlying degeneration does not change dramatically.
This is where the controversy in meniscus tear recovery time exists: many people think that because a degenerative meniscus tear does not heal back to normal that it will always remain painful.
Luckily, this is simply not true and recovery is something that we witness at our practice on a daily basis.
|Acute Meniscus Tear|
Treatment Of Meniscus Repair
Cartilage lacks a supply of blood or lymph vessels, which normally nourish other parts of the body. Without a direct supply of nourishment, cartilage is not able to heal itself if it gets injured.
In regards to the meniscus, the outer edge has ample blood supply. This means a tear in that area could repair itself. The inner portion of the meniscus, however, lacks blood supply, meaning it is unlikely the meniscus will heal on its own. Because of this, it is a good idea to see an orthopedic specialist right away, even if your knee injury doesnt feel all that bad.
Your orthopedic surgeon treats will assess your tear including its size, and location, to determine the best treatment options for you. Your age, activity level, and other related injuries will also factor into your treatment plan.
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Question 7 Of : What Is The Prognosis For A Torn Meniscus
How Does A Meniscus Tear Affect A Patients Quality Of Life
Meniscus tears lead to pain, clicking and locking of the knee. We have found that patients with these symptoms are less likely to engage in active pursuits and healthy living. They will actually limit their daily activities and avoid events that may aggravate the knee. These are big deals to patients and can significantly impact their quality of life.
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Is Knee Surgery Necessary To Repair A Torn Meniscus
More serious meniscus tears may not heal on their own. If your injury doesnt improve with RICE, NSAIDs and physical therapy, your healthcare provider may recommend arthroscopic surgery.
Surgery is a very effective way to repair a torn meniscus. If the tear is too big to repair, your surgeon may remove all or part of the meniscus. After recovery, your knee will be more stable, and youll be less likely to develop additional knee problems.
What Can Mimic A Meniscus Tear
According to Barker and colleagues, common extra-articular pathologies that can mimic lateral meniscal tears include iliotibial band syndrome, proximal tibiofibular joint instability, snapping biceps femoris or popliteus tendons, and peroneal nerve compression syndrome or neuritis . Other notable structures are the lateral collateral ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament.
For more medial structures, this can be due to injury to the medial collateral ligament, the pes anserine bursa or symptoms due to patellofemoral joint syndromes.
A visit to your local physiotherapist would be helpful to determine the exact injured structure. This may include further scans to confirm diagnosis or rule out any further pathology.
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Question 4 Of : Do I Need Surgery
Does A Meniscus Tear Need Surgery
The only meniscal tears that need surgery are those that can be repaired, or tears that give persistent pain despite good quality non-operative care. In general, if you are over 30 years old the meniscus has reduced healing potential and is less likely to be repaired as the blood supply to your meniscus starts to diminish.
If you have a tear of the meniscus in or near the blood supply, the meniscus may heal if surgical stitches hold it together whilst it heals . The stitches themselves are not very strong so if the meniscus injury is in an area without blood supply , the stitches will not repair the meniscus by themselves.
A specific type of meniscal tear called a bucket handle tear can occur and cause your knee to be locked . In all cases of a locked knee further medical assessment is required urgently as there are several causes of a locked knee. If you have a bucket handle meniscal tear you will need urgent surgical referral for either repair or partial meniscectomy. Non-operative treatment is not an option for bucket handle meniscal tears.
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What To Do For A Meniscus Tear
Immediately after your injury, you should use the RICE method. You can also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to keep the swelling down and reduce your pain.
If your pain persists, even if your symptoms seem mild, we recommend that you see our orthopedic specialists for an accurate diagnosis. If you have a meniscus tear, we have the advanced technology to determine the location and severity of your injury.
Once diagnosed, we can offer a personalized treatment plan to get you back on your feet comfortably again. We provide many methods of treatment to preserve your meniscus by repairing or removing the damaged part.
If you have a meniscus tear, dont delay making an appointment with our team. at the office nearest you in Metairie, Chalmette, or Covington, Louisiana.
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Types Of Meniscal Tears
Meniscal tears come in a variety of different types, which can affect potential treatments, symptoms or relevance.
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Will Walking On A Torn Meniscus Make It Worse
In cases with acute tears, you may be able to walk around with only slight discomfort or minimal pain. However, if youre noticing increased pain or have a severe tear, you should avoid walking on it until some pain starts to dissipate.
Some research shows that bearing weight after surgery does not cause any additional long-term damage. You can discuss with a doctor what you are and arent comfortable with to figure out if walking is a good idea.
Can A Torn Meniscus Heal On Its Own
Meniscus tears are among the most typical knee injuries. Professional athletes, especially those who play contact sports, are at risk for meniscus tears. However, anybody at any age can tear a meniscus. When people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they are generally referring to a torn meniscus.
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How Can I Prevent A Torn Meniscus
It can be hard to prevent an accidental injury. But you can reduce your risk of a torn meniscus if you:
- Strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize your knee.
- Wear a knee brace if you know your knee is unstable or weak.
- Work up slowly to more intense exercise activity.
- Wear athletic shoes that are appropriate for the sport youre doing.
Does The Meniscus Heal On Its Own
Asked by: Miss Alvena Brekke
In the case of meniscus tears, some people think the injury will heal over time on its own. But the truth is that there are different types of meniscus tears and some tears won’t heal without treatment. If your tear is on the outer one-third of the meniscus, it may heal on its own or be repaired surgically.
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When And What Type Of Surgery Would Be Necessary To Repair The Meniscus Tear
There are two main treatments for a meniscus tear, either cut out the torn part or repair the torn part. Learn more about meniscus transplants. As we learn more and more about the importance of the meniscus in preventing joint damage, repair techniques continue to expand. Dr. Van Thiel believes in saving or preserving the meniscus whenever possible. This helps keep the knee healthy and working well without pain into the future. Even though we do everything we can to save and repair the meniscus, unfortunately some tears are not repairable and the torn part must be removed. Regardless, meniscus surgery has a very high rate of success in decreasing pain and getting patients back to an active lifestyle.
Dr. Van Thiel treats patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, and Beloit.
What’s The Treatment For A Meniscus Tear
Treatment for meniscal tears depends on the size and location of the tear. Other factors which influence treatment include age, activity level and related injuries. The outer portion of the meniscus, often referred to as the âred zone,â has a good blood supply and can sometimes heal on its own if the tear is small. In contrast, the inner two thirds of the meniscus, known as the âwhite zone,â does not have a good blood supply. Tears in this region will not heal on their own as this area lacks blood vessels to bring in healing nutrients.
Happily, not all meniscal tears require surgery. If your knee is not locking up, is stable, and symptoms resolve, nonsurgical treatment may suffice. To speed the recovery, you can:
These conservative treatments, however, aren’t always enough. If a tear is large, unstable, or causing locking symptoms surgery may be required to either repair or remove unstable edges. The procedure is usually pretty simple, and you can often go home the same day. You may need a brace afterward for protection if a repair is performed.
For 85% to 90% of people who get the surgery for a meniscus tear, the short-term results are good to excellent. But in the long-term, people who have a large meniscal injury that is unrepairable may be at a higher risk of developing knee arthritis.
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