Meniscus Tear Symptoms and Treatment

Wearing or tearing of the meniscus may occur in movements where the knees are overloaded and subjected to rotational force. Rotational forces acting on the knee while playing in football, and sudden turns under the basket in basketball can tear the meniscus. Although meniscus tearing is associated with professional athletes, menisci are damaged and torn in people who do not do sports. For example, injury may occur during rising from the squatting position. Disorders caused by knee osteoarthritis in the elderly increase the risk of meniscus tear.

Depending on the degree of meniscus damage, treatment options range from self-done at home to surgery. It is possible to reduce the risk of meniscus injury by performing appropriate leg exercises. Knee pads that support the knee can be used in sports competitions. Wearing good sports shoes, tying the laces properly, and doing warm-up exercises before sports are other precautions you can take.

Who Gets Meniscus Tear?

Sports that require sudden stops, turns and moves during running pose a high risk for meniscus tear. Examples of such sports are football, basketball and tennis.

The incidence of meniscal injuries is increasing in children and youth who train intensely for a single sport.

Menisci are tissues that wear out with age. Movements such as climbing stairs and squatting strain the meniscus.

Meniscal tears in the elderly are mostly associated with wear and calcification. In knee osteoarthritis (also called gonarthrosis or osteoarthritis), meniscus tears may occur because the cartilage layer becomes thinner.

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What Are the Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear?

When there is a meniscus tear, a cracking or cracking sound may be heard from the knee joint. After this, symptoms such as pain, edema, limitation of knee movements, a feeling of getting stuck or locked in the knee, inability to carry the weight of the knee – a feeling of wasting, which is exacerbated by touching the relevant area. If a piece of cartilage is dislodged and restricts knee movements, massing or cracking sounds may be continuous.

Which Section Takes Care of the Meniscus Tear?

If the above-mentioned complaints occur as a result of a sudden trauma, you should be examined by an orthopedic and traumatology doctor. If the complaints have emerged gradually over a long period of time, you should be examined by a physical therapy and rehabilitation doctor.

How is Meniscus Tear Diagnosed?

After explaining your complaints to the doctor, he will examine you. Features such as palpation of the joint line, examination for tenderness or edema, degree of bending and opening of the knee, and whether the joint is looser than normal (stable) are evaluated. The McMurray test, which is applied by first bending the knee and then turning it open, is a special examination method used to control meniscus tear. There are several other similar tests. As a result, your doctor will have an opinion about the meniscus tear with the complaints and examination findings.

Imaging may be required to rule out other possible causes and confirm the diagnosis. X-ray films do not show the menisci directly, but give information about bone problems and calcification. Meniscal tears can be seen on knee MRI (MRI). However, MR imaging should not be considered to be 100 percent accurate in meniscal injuries. If the MR results are inconsistent with the clinical diagnosis, the arthroscopy method, in which the inside of the knee can be seen with a camera, is used for definitive diagnosis. Arthroscopy is performed by orthopedic doctors. A small incision is made in the skin of the knee and a flexible fiberoptic device is used to look inside the joint. Arthroscopy can be used for diagnostic as well as therapeutic repair surgeries.

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Meniscus Tear Treatment

In acute injuries, rest, cold application, compression bandage and elevation of the injured limb are the basic treatment principles. Activities that aggravate pain should be avoided. Crutches can be used to rest the knee and prevent load. In the first days, applying ice for 10-15 minutes every 2-3 hours reduces edema. It is helpful to wrap the knee with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling and keep the knee elevated while sitting or lying down.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory group pain relievers not only reduce pain but also reduce edema and inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe it for short-term use, if deemed appropriate.

Exercise is helpful to prevent stiffness of the knee joint and muscle wasting .

Physical therapy aims to reduce pain, normalize range of motion, and increase muscle flexibility and strength. Menisci are not well-blooded tissues. For this reason, the possibility of self-healing of injuries is low. However, injuries near the outer edge with better blood supply may heal over time. In complex tears, surgery may be required.

When is Meniscus Tear Operated?

If physical therapy does not improve at the desired rate, surgery is considered. Meniscus tear surgery is performed closed (with arthroscopy). The tear can be repaired or the damaged part can be shaved. It is necessary to apply physical therapy exercises after the surgery.

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