The knee joint is made up of a shock-absorbing cartilage called meniscus. They exist two menisci, placed between the shin bone and thigh bone. The outer meniscus is called lateral meniscus while the meniscus in the inner side is known as medial meniscus.
Sport players are often in the danger of meniscus tear. Quick turning or twisting of knee, heavy weight lifting and accidents are the common causes of meniscus damage. Aging is another factor which enhance the risk of meniscus tear. With age, the cartilage begins to wear down and there occurs lack of blood supply. Thus the meniscus are damaged.
In some patients, the initial stages do not show any symptoms. They develop signs of meniscus tear at the later stages. Some of the common symptoms are:
- A clicking sound at the time of injury
- Knee joint locking
- Pain during knee movement
- Swelling and stiffness
- Limited knee movement
The knee joint x-ray or MRI scan is done, prior to treatment, to detect the type and area of meniscus tear. Another test called McMurray is also sometimes done to confirm the diagnosis of meniscus tear. Both non-surgical and surgical treatment methods exist for treating meniscus tear.
Non-surgical Treatments/Home Treatments
For mild symptoms, it is sufficient to use non-surgical treatment like Home remedies. The non-surgical method of treatment includes:
A short break from activities that may harm the injury or increase the symptoms is recommended.
Applying ice packs on the affected helps to relief pain and swelling. It should be used several times in a day for at least 20 minutes.
Wearing a compression band over the injured part is a good option. It prevents additional blood loss and swelling.
Resting the leg up higher than the heart is useful to reduce swelling.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
Anti-inflammatory medicines aim to reduce pain and swelling in the injured are. Aspirin and ibuprofen are the commonly used medicines.
In severe cases, when non-surgical methods fail, surgery becomes necessary. The commonly used surgical procedures are:
- Arthroscopic Meniscectomy
The arthroscopic meniscectomy aims to treat only the damaged part of meniscus. In this procedure, a small camera along with surgical instruments is inserted through a tiny incision made on the knee. This gives a clear inside view of the injured area. The instruments help in the removal of torn part of meniscus. The healthy part of meniscus is left unaffected. The recovery in this surgery is usually fast as compared to other methods.
- Meniscus Repair
In this surgical procedure, the torn part of the meniscus is repaired.The repaired meniscus provides the lost anatomy of the knee. However, this procedure has some disadvantages such as larger recovery time and limited blood supply to meniscus. Thus meniscus repair is not possible for every person.
- Meniscus Transplantation
In people suffering with persistent knee pain, the meniscus transplantation surgery is chosen. During surgery, the damaged meniscus is replaced with a healthy meniscus from the donor. The entire meniscus is removed in this treatment procedure.
Post-surgery, the patient is kept under observance in the hospital for 1-2 days. A brace or cast is usually put around the knee to avoid any movement. Medications help in enhancing healing process. Once the healing is achieved, the rehabilitation program is started. The duration of this program is likely 4-6 months. It involves regular exercises to improve the mobility and flexibility. These specific exercises strengthens the muscles.
The risks involved in the surgical procedure of meniscus tear are:
- Cartilage damage
Chances of wear-and-tear arthritis