Meniscal Tears in the Knee
Knee and the Meniscus
The meniscus is a C-shaped structure made of fibrocartilage. It lies between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia). The menisci are fixed to the femur, tibia, and capsule and serve shock absorbers to prevent damage to the cartilage.
The meniscus may tear in a variety of ways.
In younger patients who have a healthy meniscus, the tear may occur when the knee gets suddenly twisted in a sports injury.
With age, the quality of the meniscus deteriorates. This may be accompanied by narrowing of the space between the femur and tibia (due to arthritis). As a result of all these factors, the meniscus becomes more prone to a tear. Such tears are called degenerative meniscal tears and are very common in older adults.
Symptoms of a meniscus tear
The classic sign of a meniscal tear is a “popping” sensation, accompanied by sudden pain along the joint line. The knee may swell some time. The most common symptoms of a meniscal tear are:
• Pain along the joint line
• Painful catching or clicking in the knee
• Limited motion
• Some tear patterns may cause knee “locking”
Diagnosis of a meniscus tear
Your medical history and physical examination may indicate a meniscal tear. This is further evaluated with imaging studies, such as an MRI since X-rays do not show meniscal tears.
Treatment for a meniscus tear
Treatment for meniscal tears depends on the patient’s –
• size, location and type of meniscal tear
Younger patients with acute, traumatic meniscal tears may be advised surgery for best outcomes. On the other hand, degenerative meniscal tears can usually be successfully treated with NSAIDs, steroid injection, and physical therapy.
How do I know whether I need surgery for my meniscus tear?
Patients who do not show improvement with non-surgical treatment need surgery. This knee surgery is performed in a minimally invasive manner or arthroscopically.
• Meniscus repair: The meniscus may be repaired to allow the tear to heal. After surgery, your weightbearing may be limited and you may need bracing for a short period.
• Partial meniscectomy: The damaged part of the meniscus is removed if the tear is such that it can’t be repaired. After meniscectomy, there will be no limitations in weight bearing or motion. You will gradually regain both.
Phoenix Shoulder & Knee
1215 W Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, AZ 85281
To consult the best knee and orthopedic surgeons in Phoenix AZ, call Phoenix Shoulder and Knee at 480-219-3342. Dr. Adam Farber is a Fellowship Trained, Board Certified Phoenix and Scottsdale orthopedic surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine.
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