From athletics and age to car or work related accidents, there is an overwhelming number of ways to injure your knee. Considering it is the largest joint in your body, your knee deserves proper care and treatment after an injury. While slight aches and pain may stem from minor injuries, higher levels of discomfort and loss of mobility may be signs of a torn meniscus. Unfortunately, you may not be familiar with the severity of a torn meniscus. Using this guide, you can understand this common injury and find the best treatment option for your knee.
The 101 on a Torn Meniscus
The meniscus is a c-shaped piece of cartilage in each of your knees. This cartilage serves as a protective cushion between your thigh and shinbone as you move. If you move suddenly or rotate your knee forcefully, you may overextend the cartilage, resulting in a torn meniscus.
In most cases, the tear will cause a popping sensation in your knee. Here are a few other symptoms of a torn meniscus:
- Stiffness in the knee joint
- Swelling in and around the knee joint
- Discomfort while twisting or bending the knee
- Pain in the knee or that radiates through the leg
- Difficulty moving the knee or blockage in the knee joint
Your doctor will use a series of x-rays to determine if you have torn your meniscus. Once a diagnosis is made, you can begin treating the pain and the injury.
You will most likely experience a good amount of pain and discomfort after your injury, so your doctor will recommend R.I.C.E therapy for relief. R.I.C.E therapy involves the following:
- Rest – Limit movement and get adequate rest to relieve your discomfort.
- Ice – Using an ice pack will not only numb your pain, but it will also decrease inflammation in and around your knee joint. Hold an ice pack on your injured knee for 15 to 20 minutes a few times each day.
- Compression – Wrap the knee in elastic bandages or wear a specialized knee brace to reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Elevation – Elevate your knee a few times each day. This will reduce swelling and pain.
While following R.I.C.E therapy, your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers for easing discomfort.
Repairing Your Torn Meniscus
Surgical procedures may be necessary to repair your torn meniscus, but your doctor can first conduct a knee arthroscopy to determine the best method of repair. During a knee arthroscopy, surgeons will administer anesthesia to numb the area before inserting a small camera through small incisions. This camera will give your surgeon a detailed look at your tear. Depending on the severity of the tear, the surgeon may perform one of the following repairs:
- Meniscectomy – During this surgical procedure, the damaged tissue surrounding the meniscus is cut away and removed to promote healing.
- Meniscus Repair – A complete repair involves suturing the torn tissue.
Utilizing arthroscopy to diagnosis and repair a torn meniscus is less invasive compared to open surgery, but proper recovery is imperative for success. Follow your surgeon's advice on recovery suited to your specific needs, but the following tips can be helpful for a successful recovery:
Crutches should not be necessary 2 to 7 days after a meniscectomy and 4 to 6 weeks after a complete meniscus repair. You should regain your complete movement within 2 weeks after a meniscectomy. Since a complete meniscus repair requires additional rest and recovery time, it may take a surprising 3 to 6 months to return to work or sports.
A torn meniscus can wreak havoc on your daily life. With this guide, you will understand this knee injury in more detail and be able to determine the best treatment option for your knee. For more information about treatment options for your injuries, visit http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com or contact a local clinic.