Your Knee Does It All

The knee is a complex joint that is crucial for movement. Knee joints are a coming together of the femur and tibia bones. The patella and tibiofemoral joint helps the knee flex and extend. Four ligaments support the bones to allow twisting movements and shock absorption. Resting on the tibia are two C-shaped pieces of cartilage called menisci. These small pieces of cartilage are essential for knee function. A small meniscus tear can keep persons out of commission and may even require surgery.

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The benefits of menisci

The meniscus acts as a shock absorber from compressive forces. These pieces of cartilage can hold an impressive 3 times the person’s body weight. Menisci also help with joint stability and are connected to the MCL. Meniscus tears are one of the more common knee injuries, especially in athletes. A knee collision or sudden twist can rip the ligament. Wear and tear can also cause a meniscus tear. These chronic injuries often happen in older persons or due to osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of meniscus tears

Meniscus tears vary in size and intensity. Acute tears are painful at the point of impact. Persons will experience pain, swelling, and an inability to twist the knee. Chronic tears can be painless for long periods. However, both conditions cause symptoms of a popping or clicking sound when extending the knee. Part of the torn meniscus gets stuck in spaces in the surrounding joint. When this happens, the knee is painful to stretch. These symptoms should raise immediate alarms.

Different levels of treatment

Using physical tests, or an x-ray, the doctor can gauge the severity of the tear. An MRI gives the doctor the exact location and size of the meniscus tear. From there, doctors can help treat the injury using ice, rest, and pain medication. Once the pain and swelling go down, physical therapy can then improve the range of motion. If the non-surgical treatment fails, surgery is the next best step.

Stitching things up

The doctor will choose the right procedure based on the size and location of the tear. Some tears may benefit from meniscus repair. The outer part of the meniscus has the most blood supply and will respond to repair. Meniscus repair happens using minimally invasive methods. The surgeon uses a scope to get a clear view of the ligament. The surgeon then uses small tools to stitch the injury. The blood supply should help heal the damage, along with physical therapy.

A smooth operator

If the tear is too large or in an area with reduced blood flow, the surgeon performs a meniscectomy. Using a small, high-powered scope, the doctor gets a full view of the damage. Next, the doctor clears the damage by removing jagged parts and smoothing out the meniscus. A smoother meniscus means less pain and will no longer cause that catching or popping feeling. In both meniscus repair and meniscectomy, there is a high success rate.

Take care of your knee immediately

The meniscus is an essential part of knee stability and support. However, a damaged ligament will not regrow. Some menisci injuries respond to ice, medication, and physical therapy. However, surgery is the best long-term solution for a tear. Based on the type of damage, the doctor will perform the right procedure. Without a proper functioning knee, simple tasks and fun sports are challenging. Make sure to seek medical advice for a suspected torn meniscus.

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