A meniscal tear is one of the most common injuries in physically active people. In fact, it can happen to anyone, as the knee is one of the most used joints in the body and is the most weight-bearing and therefore more prone to injury.
Menisci are C-shaped cartilage found in the knee. They act as discs that cushion the contact between the leg bones, femur and tibia. In addition, they also help the joint to remain stable.
Meniscal rupture can have different causes and symptoms, which vary according to the severity of the damage. Next, we will explain the most important aspects and the most frequent characteristics of this injury.
What is a meniscus tear?
As mentioned, the menisci are cartilages that are part of the knee joint. Cartilage is a type of solid, resistant and elastic tissue. Each knee has two menisci, one located on the outer edge and one on the inner edge.
A meniscal tear is the injury to this cartilage. Depending on the degree of injury, we may be facing a total or partial rupture of this tissue. Generally, a meniscal tear is classified according to where it occurred.
The most common is that this pathology occurs in people who play sports. It is very easy for it to happen when you make a sudden movement with your leg, such as turning quickly or being twisted. It is also common for it to occur when lifting something very heavy.
However, meniscus rupture can happen to anyone. In fact, over the years, the incidence of this injury increases. This is because, with aging, cartilage tends to wear away. In this way, its breakage occurs more easily.
What are the symptoms caused by a torn meniscus?
The symptoms of this condition vary according to how it occurred and the depth of the break. One of the most obvious signs is to hear a sound similar to a bubble burst, ” pop” .
As indicated by an American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons publication , a meniscus tear causes pain in the knee region. In addition, it also prevents normal leg movement. The act of stretching the knee becomes an almost impossible gesture to perform. The feeling is of having this joint blocked or collapsed.
Also, the joint is often swollen and much stiffer. Some athletes take two or three days to notice these symptoms because the signs of inflammation take longer to appear.
How can it be treated?
Depending on the cause of the rupture and its severity, the treatment indicated by specialists may be more or less aggressive. For example, in cases of meniscal tears associated with aging and arthritis, treatment is usually limited to controlling the arthritis and its symptoms.
First, what is generally recommended is rest. Try to avoid straining the knee and subjecting it to too much weight or movement. In some cases, the doctor may recommend using crutches for a while.
If the joint is severely inflamed, it is possible to apply ice to the area. Ideally, this should be done with a compress or towel, to prevent the ice from coming into direct contact with the skin. If the pain is very intense, it is recommended to take painkillers to relieve it.
On the other hand, it is possible to undergo physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and thus improve the stability of the knee. Importantly, severe meniscal tears can be treated with surgery. However, this measure is reserved for cases where there is no response to conservative treatment.
In the face of a meniscal tear, follow medical treatment
A meniscus tear is a common injury in athletes. However, since it is a tissue that degenerates with age, it is also common for it to appear with aging. It causes pain and prevents normal leg movements, especially knee extension.
The most important thing, given the suspicion of this pathology, is to seek a doctor as soon as possible. There are different types of treatment depending on the severity of the rupture, so the doctor will decide which is the most suitable for each case.