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Meniscus Tear

  • What is a Meniscus Tear?

    The meniscus is a small C-shaped cartilage that acts as a cushion in the knee joint. There are 2 menisci that sit between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia), one is on the inside of the knee (medial) and one is on the outside (lateral). A meniscus tear occurs when one of these pieces of cartilage in the knee is injured or torn.

  • A meniscus tear occurs during movements that forcefully rotate the knee while the foot is firmly planted, eg. during contact sports like basketball or football.

  • The symptoms of a meniscus tear are:

    • Clicking or popping sounds during movement
    • Limited range of movement
    • Locking feeling (not able to straighten the knee)
    • Pain on either side of the knee
    • Swelling at the joint line area
    • Tenderness along the joint line
  • Some meniscus tears can heal on their own, although surgery can be done to repair the tears faster. Otherwise, the rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) protocol is advised:

    • Rest – take a break from the activity that caused the injury
    • Ice – use cold packs on the injury for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day
    • Compression – use an elastic compression bandage to prevent further swelling
    • Elevation – recline during rest and lift the leg up higher than the heart to reduce swelling

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to reduce pain and swelling.

    If surgery is needed to repair or remove the pieces of the torn meniscus, this is usually done by arthroscopy (minimally invasive surgery).

  • Constant rubbing of the torn meniscus on the cartilage may cause the joint surface to be worn away, leading to long-term problems such as knee osteoarthritis (inflammation of knee joints).

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