Board-certified surgeon Sumit Dewanjee, MD, and his team at FXRX Inc offer top-level orthopedic care to individuals in and around the communities of Chandler and Tempe, Arizona. Our patients greatly appreciate his significant surgical skill and medical expertise as well as the patient-centric atmosphere he promotes in his practice.
Read what Dr. Dewanjee says about meniscus tears, how they’re treated, and the activities that put you at risk for this common knee injury.
What is a meniscus tear?
The menisci, plural for meniscus, are c-shaped pads of cartilage that sit between the shin bone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur) in your knees. These tough rubbery structures, two per knee, act as shock absorbers that also help stabilize the joint during movement.
A meniscus tear is a relatively common injury that often occurs when an athlete twists or rotates the knee during a game or when in training.
Sports activities that increase your risk of a meniscal tear include those that require extensive running, twisting, and pivoting during play, such as:
But notably, routine movements such as squatting to lift an object or an awkward pivot during a hike or run can also result in a torn meniscus.
If you have osteoarthritis or another degenerative joint condition, you are also more susceptible to meniscal tears.
What are the symptoms of a torn meniscus?
Dr. Dewanjee notes that the symptoms of a torn meniscus are sometimes rather subtle initially. You might, for instance, experience a popping or snapping sensation in the affected knee at the time of injury.
But because a meniscus tear may only result in mild or temporary pain at first, you may decide to work it out and carry on with the game.
Unfortunately, over the next several hours to days, the tear is likely to cause varying degrees of pain as well as:
- Swelling or stiffness in the injured knee
- Pain when moving the knee that may eventually occur even at rest
- Difficulty straightening or bending your knee fully
- A catching sensation that seems to lock your knee in place
- A general sense of instability in the knee joint or feeling as if your knee is about to give way
The severity of your symptoms can vary according to the extent and location of the tear. But even a minor meniscus tear can cause pain and stiffness for two to three weeks and may worsen without appropriate care.
How do you treat a meniscus tear?
Depending on the results of your evaluation, which may include X-rays or an MRI along with a physical exam, Dr. Dewanjee typically recommends conservative treatment measures initially, including:
- Rest from potentially aggravating activities
- Icing as directed to reduce swelling
- Compression bandage
- Elevation of the injured leg
- Oral medications to reduce pain and inflammation
- Steroid injections
- Guided physical therapy
If these conservative measures fail or if your injury is extensive, Dr. Dewanjee may recommend minimally invasive surgery (knee arthroscopy) followed by physical rehab to help promote strength, flexibility, and joint stability.
Don’t ignore or try to work through your knee pain. We can help. Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Dewanjee at FXRX today. Call our office or request an appointment online.