The meniscus performs an essential role in supporting your knee and absorbing shock, but if you tear one of the two menisci in your knee, it will curb your athletic enthusiasm for a good while. Amun Makani, MD, MBA, FAAOS, is a double board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist serving the community of St. Petersburg, Florida. Dr. Makani and his team at Ascend Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine are experts in treating musculoskeletal injuries such as repairing meniscus tears, so if your knee is causing you problems, call the office today, or schedule an appointment online.
Meniscus tears are common knee injuries that can happen to anyone, although they’re particularly common in athletes. The menisci are tough, rubbery discs of cartilage that sit in the knee joint, providing a cushion between the thighbone and shinbone. If the menisci are under pressure from strenuous activity or awkward, twisting movement, they can tear.
Degeneration of the meniscus due to aging makes the cartilage weaker and more prone to injury, so older people may tear a meniscus, for example, when arising from a chair if they move awkwardly.
When the meniscus tears, you may sense a popping in your knee, but in most cases, you’re still able to walk. Swelling and stiffness set in gradually, and after a few days, the knee is swollen and tender.
Your knee may feel as though it’s catching or locking, or that it’s likely to buckle when you walk. Also, you won’t have your normal range of motion in the knee.
The treatment Dr. Makani recommends depends on the type of tear you have and where it is located. The outer third of the meniscus is more likely to heal without surgery because it has a rich blood supply. However, the inner section of the meniscus receives virtually no blood supply, meaning it’s incapable of repairing itself.
If your meniscus tear is on that outer third, nonsurgical treatments can be effective if your knee is otherwise stable. Following the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) protocol is sensible whatever kind of injury you sustain, and to start with, you should rest your knee, and use ice packs, wear an elastic compression bandage, and raise your knee higher than your heart when seated to reduce swelling. Building strength into the knee with a program of physical therapy helps ensure optimal recovery from a meniscus tear.
If your meniscus tear is in the section of the cartilage that can’t heal itself, or your symptoms are persisting, Dr. Makani can perform a surgical procedure called arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a form of minimally invasive surgery in which Dr. Makani uses small incisions in your knee to insert a miniaturized camera and specialized surgical instruments that he uses to repair the torn meniscus.
If you sustain a knee injury when playing sports, or have problems using your knee, call Ascend Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine today, or schedule an appointment online.