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Meniscus Tear Injury? Read These FAQs From an Ortho Surgeon

Author: Mike Sumko, M.D.

If you’ve spent any time playing a contact sport, then you’ve probably heard of “meniscus tear injuries.” These injuries, which occur in the knee, are common in athletes who run, jump, and suddenly change direction. However, non-athletes certainly aren’t exempt from meniscus tears. Anyone of any age and health can suffer a meniscus tear injury.

What is the meniscus?

The meniscus is a horseshoe-shaped piece of cartilage in the knee. The knee has two menisci on each side. The menisci are located just below the patella (kneecap) and above the tibia (shinbone). One of their primary functions is to provide cushioning between the bones that meet in your knee joint.

What is a meniscus tear?

A meniscus tear is an injury that occurs when the meniscus is ruptured in one or more place. There are many types, including bucket handle tears, flap tears, and longitudinal tears. Oftentimes, meniscal tear injuries occur during sports. In older patients, tears may occur in a single harmless movement after years of wear and tear have gradually weakened the meniscus.

How do I know if I’ve torn my meniscus?

Many people report that they hear a popping sound when the meniscus tear injury occurs. Usually, the injury is not bad enough to make the patient stop walking. Over the next 48 to 72 hours, however, the knee becomes increasingly swollen and stiff. If you experience pain, stiffness, swelling, feeling of a weak knee, limited range of motion, or a locked knee… see a health care provider for an evaluation. 

How is a meniscus tear diagnosed?

At Hedley Orthopaedic Institute, diagnosis begins with a physical examination and patient history. There are some basic range-of-motion tests your provider may perform to evaluate joint movement. Imaging tests are sometimes necessary to evaluate the meniscus (MRI) and surrounding components (x-ray).

How is a meniscus tear injury treated?

Some meniscus tear injuries will heal on their own or with basic rest, ice, compression, elevation (R.I.C.E.) therapy. In the case of complex tears – which do not heal on their own – meniscus surgery may be necessary.

Your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend a meniscectomy to trim away damaged tissue or a meniscus repair to suture together the torn pieces of the meniscus.

Knee Injury? See A Sports Medicine Physician In Phoenix

To learn more about meniscus surgery in Phoenix, contact Hedley Orthopaedic Institute at 602-553-3113. A health care provider at Hedley can evaluate, diagnose and treat your meniscus tear injuries and other sports-related injuries. Don’t wait for the treatment you need now.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.

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