Meniscus Tear Treatments in St. Louis & Wentzville, MO
Torn Meniscus Injuries
While meniscus injuries are fairly common, how your orthopedic physician treats yours may depend on the precise type of injury you sustained as well as how old and active you are.
The meniscus is a C-shaped pad of cartilage at the knee joint that provides cushioning where your thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia) meet. There are two menisci at each knee. Both are attached to the top of the shinbone, with one positioned along the inside of the knee joint, with the back of its curve facing your inner leg (medial meniscus) and the other along the outside of the knee joint, with the back of its curve facing your outer leg (lateral meniscus).
Together, each pair of menisci act as shock absorbers when you move about as well as help keep your knee stable.
The meniscus can be torn with a forceful rotation of the knee while bearing down or placing significant pressure on the knee. When meniscus damage is the result of a sports injury, chances are other tissue of the knee may also be damaged, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The medial meniscus is more prone to injury because it is attached more rigidly to the deep medial collateral ligament than the larger lateral meniscus is. In addition, the medial meniscus is subject to degenerative wear and tear over time, which can make a tear more likely.
Signs You May Have a Meniscus Tear in Your Knee
You may be suffering from a meniscus tear if you experience the following signs and symptoms:
- Knee pain
- Knee swelling and stiffness
- Tenderness along the bottom of the knee joint
- Popping sensation at the moment of injury
- Difficulty bending or straightening the knee – especially compared to the other knee
- Knee catches or locks up
- Inability to pivot leg when it’s bearing weight
- Difficulty walking
Types of Meniscus Tears and Treatments
When it comes to treating meniscus damage, it is important to note that the outer edges of each meniscus have access to a blood supply – and thus have the ability to heal after a tear – while the tissue at the center of the C-shaped cartilage doesn’t and will not be able to heal.
The meniscus can be damaged in several recognizable ways. Common types of meniscus tears include:
When the tear in the C-shaped cartilage doesn’t extend all the way through the cartilage, it is called an incomplete meniscus tear. More like an abrasion or scratch on the surface of the C-shaped cartilage than an actual tear, these types of tears are considered stable injuries and often do not require surgery.
The most common type of tear, a rip that extends from inside the C-shaped cartilage through the edge of the cartilage. Because the edge of the meniscus is involved (the area without access to a blood supply), the cartilage will not heal. Trimming the damaged portion of the cartilage tends to be the treatment approach for radial tears of the meniscus.
When the tear results in a noticeable “flap” extending outside the boundary of the cartilage, it may interfere with functions of the knee joint, such as causing the knee to catch or lock. Often, the extended flap is surgically removed to alleviate symptoms.
Because the tear in this case is contained entirely within the cartilage – no outside edge of the cartilage is involved – it can usually be surgically stitched together.
Similar to the horizontal tear, a bucket handle tear indicates a much larger hole within the cartilage. If you have such a tear in your meniscus, surgery will likely be required to enable you to bend and extend your knee.
Surgery is not always required to treat a meniscus tear. Stretching, physical therapy, and/or anti-inflammatories may help to quell your symptoms.
When these conservative measures don’t work, there are a number of minimally invasive surgical techniques used to repair a torn meniscus. Arthroscopy is commonly used to trim or repair the meniscus tear.
Knee Pain Treatment in St. Louis, Missouri
Don’t suffer with a meniscus injury a moment longer. Find out what your treatment options are for your knee pain. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jason Browdy specializes in disorders of the knee, shoulder, and elbow. Call (314) 991-2150 to schedule your consultation or request an appointment now. We look forward to seeing you at our office in St. Louis, Missouri.