Have you ever wondered what keeps your knee safe when you play sports, kneel, or even take a gentle walk? Your meniscus is a piece of cartilage that surrounds your knee joint in order to cushion it from impacts and keep your knee safe. The plural is menisci, as you actually have two of them in each knee as well as the ones which cushion your shinbones and thighbones.
If you tear your meniscus, there can be aching, swelling, and a feeling of unsteadiness when you walk. It might hurt a little or a lot, and in extreme cases, surgical repair may help. Not every torn meniscus can be repaired via surgery, however. Here are five facts you should know about torn menisci.
1. You can tear a meniscus very easily.
It doesn’t take much to tear your meniscus if you simply move the wrong way. If you suddenly stop or turn, your meniscus comes under pressure. Some people find their meniscus tears when they kneel and stand or when they lift. Deep squatting, such as in the gym, can also cause tears. If you’re an older adult, you may also suffer a meniscus tear just from wear and tear.
2. Athletes are at the most risk, but others are, too.
Some common movements that cause meniscus injuries include twists and rotations with force, such as you might perform while pivoting or turning in a sports game. Athletes should always properly stretch, warm up, and cool down in order to avoid knee injuries.
3. Diagnosis involves a variety of tests.
There are several common ways to diagnose a torn meniscus. Cartilage doesn’t show up on X-rays, but they might still be performed in order to rule out other injuries to your bones or knee problems that can cause similar symptoms such as popping sounds, swelling, or an inability to bend or straighten your knee. Some doctors perform ultrasounds or MRIs in order to examine the soft tissue of your knee. They may also use an arthroscope through a small incision to examine the knee and see if there is a tear, and if so, where in the meniscus the tear is located.
4. Surgery is uncommon for several reasons.
Only certain types of meniscus injuries can be treated with surgery. There are several different ways you can tear your meniscus, and two different zones â€“ red and white â€“ in your meniscus. If you tear the red zone, which is the outer zone, surgery may be possible since it will heal thanks to better blood flow. The white zone can’t be repaired with surgery, however, as it will not heal.
5. Non-surgical treatment is usually preferable.
This means most doctors choose non-surgical treatment first, and will advise you to rest, ice your knee, and take medication for the pain. Once the injury is healing, physical therapy can help you regain use of your knee.
A torn meniscus can cause debilitating lifestyle changes unless you seek out help. Your doctor can help you figure out what is wrong with your knee and how best to heal it. Prevention is the best medicine, however, so if you are at risk of a torn meniscus, take care. Always stretch and warm up before you exercise to help minimise your chances of tearing this vital cartilage.
About the Author
Leonardo Dawson has suffered from a knee injury in the past. As an avid writer, he likes to inform people about knee injuries and how best to avoid them by blogging for a variety of health sites. For more information on Torn Meniscus click the link.