Meniscus tear, its signs and treatment
What is a meniscus tear?
As previously mentioned, the meniscus is an intra-articular formation of cartilage that helps reduce intra-articular load and facilitates movement in the joint. Menisci are a “C”-shaped structure that has high edges and a thin core. In some cases, the menisci are already congenitally denser and disc-shaped. The so called disc-shaped meniscus shape results in more frequent injuries and tears. If there is no pain or irritation (discomfort) in the area of the joint, no intervention is necessary. Each knee joint has two menisci: an external (lateral) and an internal (medial) meniscus. A meniscus tear is a common occurrence in knee injuries. Meniscus tears occur mostly in sports and running, but they can also occur as a result of daily physical activity, sudden movements of the knee, aggressive movements, squatting, and lifting weights.
- Sounds observed when injuries occur
- Pain and swelling in the knee joint area
- Difficulty in moving around
- Inability to fully bend and straighten the knee joint
- Blockage in the knee joint
How is the examination performed?
Patients complaining of pain in the knee joint when a meniscus tear is suspected are recommended to have an MRI examination in order to perform a detailed examination of the knee joint structures.
Treatment of meniscus tears
The choice of treatment for a meniscus tear depends on the location and size of the tear, the age of the patient, and the activity level of the patient. Depending on the location of the tear, a tear located in the red zone is treated conservatively. The red zone is the marginal zone and is rich in blood vessels. Small tears in this area in some cases are self-lacerating. However, unlike the red zone, the white zone of the meniscus has no blood vessels. If there are tears in this area, depending on the size of the tear and the degree of pain, surgical treatment is recommended.
Conservative treatment methods
Rest – motor activity is restricted until the pain stops, in some cases a crutch is used as an aid to movement.
Application of ice bandages – this point of treatment, has a high effectiveness in conservative treatment. To relieve pain symptoms and swelling, ice packs are used for 2-3 days.
Knee cap and elastic bandage application – this point of treatment is used to prevent pain symptoms and reduce swelling by stabilizing the knee joint.
Lower limb elevation – this treatment involves placing 1-2 pillows under the injured leg and supporting the leg at the level of the heart. This reduces pain and swelling.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – this point of treatment is used on the doctor’s recommendation to reduce inflammation in the knee joint.
Physical therapy – with this point of treatment, special exercises by a physiotherapist are used, and sports exercises are recommended to strengthen the muscles.
If it is impossible to reduce the patient’s complaints with conservative methods of treatment, in case of acute pain due to blockage of the knee joint, surgical method of treatment is used. Surgical treatment of the meniscus tear and clearing of the meniscus surface is performed using the endoscopic (closed) method.