Meniscus tear: symptoms and treatment


Meniscus tear is known to be a very common knee injury in athletes. However, it is not exclusive to sports professionals or amateurs who perform physical activity frequently, it can also happen to other people because there are many causes that produce its rupture or tear. Its symptoms are sometimes not easy to recognize, many people thinking that it is a problem of the joint, which will pass in a few days. However, it is very important to apply some remedies immediately to facilitate treatment. From, we are going to talk to you in this article about meniscus tear: symptoms and treatment so you know how to recognize it and what to do. Causes of meniscus tear.

Meniscus tear symptoms and treatment

The meniscus are the cartilaginous discs, which act as shock absorbers from the impacts that occur in the knee and between the bones that form it: femur, tibia and patella. In addition, they also have the function of avoiding friction between the different bones. In relation to the meniscus, we can speak of two parts:

  • Internal or medial meniscus: it is the one that has the shape of a crescent and that is in the capsule of the joint, so it has less mobility. This makes it break more easily.
  • Lateral meniscus: This disc is located on the outside of the joint.

As we have mentioned before, the meniscus can rupture for many causes and in various situations, the most common being:

  • Sprain or a bad turn of the knee, which can be caused by a sudden stop when walking to see something or to change direction, fall or misstep, among other situations.
  • Lifting objects that are very heavy.
  • Sports: it is the most common, especially when practicing football, basketball or tennis because there is an important impact continuously on this joint. However, it is also a frequent injury in other sports in which the impact is not so direct, such as jockey or rugby, or because falls occur as in the case of skiing or snowboarding.

Symptoms of meniscus tear

Meniscus tear has different symptoms depending on whether a mild tear has occurred or the injury is more serious. In general, when the damage caused is not very important, a slight pain and swelling usually appears in the area. This often tends to be associated with symptoms that are related as the effect or consequence of the blow or the bad gesture that may have been made. However, there are still other signs to watch out for:

  • Pain in the center or side of the knee, especially when you bend down or have to twist or bend that joint. In addition, it intensifies when pressed on the area, even if the pressure is mild. The pain also occurs when trying to walk, noticing in turn as a pinch.
  • Snap or dry noise, which you will hear at the time the injury has occurred.
  • Less mobility in this joint, even reaching the knee to be blocked or locked when trying to flex it. In some cases, it is also not possible to stretch the leg completely, which is sometimes caused by intense pain.
  • Stiffness and stiffness, which are accompanied by swelling. In addition, these symptoms worsen as the first few days go by.
  • Having the feeling that the knee fails or that it gives way, even if weight is not carried on it.

First aid for meniscus tear

Although to diagnose the meniscus tear, the doctor has to do some tests, it is normal that already in a first visit you can know or have indications -depending on its level of severity-, if it has been possible to break or produce a tear of the meniscus.

Always in the face of doubt or suspicion that we may be facing this type of injury, it is advisable to adopt a series of measures and care:

  • Apply ice to the knee area so that it can lower the inflammation.
  • Use a specific knee brace to immobilize the joint, even being necessary to have to use crutches.
  • Take some anti-inflammatory and, if the pain is very intense, some medication that allows to alleviate this symptom.

Treatment of meniscus tear

The treatment of meniscus tear will depend on its severity, apart from other factors such as whether the lateral or inner meniscus has been torn, the age of the person and their level of activity, and and it is that an athlete is not the same as another person who does not do physical exercise with a certain intensity and periodicity.

Normally, if the injury has been mild, treatment usually includes:

  • Rest: It is important to keep the knee at rest and move as little as possible. If it is necessary to walk, it is better to help yourself with crutches so as not to support weight on the leg and, consequently, on the meniscus.
  • Elevate the leg: the leg is always better to keep it stretched and elevated so you can place several pillows or cushions. If possible, you should keep your leg above the height of your heart to help reduce swelling.
  • Ice: especially the first days, it is convenient to apply ice, but not directly, but through a cloth or bags that adapt well to the shape of the knee, such as frozen peas sold in supermarkets. This will help lower swelling and reduce pain.
  • Compression: In some cases, it may be advisable to use elastic bandages to support the knee.

In those cases where the injury has been more severe, the doctor may recommend surgical intervention. Nowadays, they are usually performed by arthroscopic surgery to reconstruct the meniscus or put a prosthesis. However, depending on the injury, it may be necessary to opt for open surgery and even do a meniscus transplant.

After the surgical intervention, on some occasions, a brace is placed to immobilize it while it heals or the patient will be recommended to use crutches.

The treatment is also usual to be complemented with physiotherapy and rehabilitation sessions to recover the mobility of the knee and strengthen the muscles of that area. In the following article, we show what exercises can be done when you have a knee injury.


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