Sports fans may have heard of meniscus injuries in athletes. Torn meniscus is a relatively common knee injury that affects athletes and they have a higher risk due to the nature of their sporting activities. But anyone can suffer from meniscus tears. Meniscus tears often require assessment and treatment by an orthopaedic doctor or at a sports clinic.
What is meniscus surgery?
Each of our knees have two menisci. These rubbery, C-shaped cartilage cushions serve as shock absorbers in your knee joint. When you have an injury to your meniscus, it can prevent you from participating in your usual lifestyle or sporting activities.
Meniscus surgery is a common operative procedure. An orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in knee surgery will remove or repair the torn meniscus. The knee cartilage surgery may be done with only small incisions with around 4 to 8 weeks of post-surgery recovery and rehabilitation. Surgery may be recommended for meniscus injury for pain reduction, better stability and knee mobility and so that you can go back to your daily and sporting activities.
Who needs meniscus surgery?
Knee surgery such as for meniscus tears is common among those who play sports or professional athletes. There are sudden twists, turns and collisions in sports that can cause injuries and tears to the meniscus. Those who are older can also injure their meniscus as this knee cartilage weakens over time due to degenerative changes and is more prone to tears. Those who engage in motions like deep squatting, kneeling and lifting heavyweights are also at risk for meniscus injury.
Signs of a meniscus injury
When you have a meniscus injury or tear, you will have symptoms such as:
- Pain in the knee, especially when twisting or rotating the knee
- Instability of the knee joint
- Difficulty bending or straightening your leg
- Feeling like your knee is stuck or locked when you try to move it
- A popping sound or sensation when the injury occured
When do you require surgery for meniscus injury
Not all meniscus injuries require surgery. However, for a meniscus tear, surgery is recommended because the injured knee cartilage can cause immense pain, swelling, make the knee unstable by buckling and giving way or cause the injured knee to become locked or stuck.
Some factors your orthopaedic doctor will take into consideration when recommending whether you require meniscus surgery are:
- The type, location and size of the tear in your knee cartilage
- Your age, activity level and lifestyle
- Other related injuries such as ACL tears
- The symptoms you present such as pain, swelling, buckling and locking
Non-surgical treatments such as medication, RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), physical therapy may be first recommended before exploring knee cartilage surgery options if your symptoms do not ease up.
Tips to prevent meniscus injury
While accidental injuries are hard to prevent, you can reduce your risk of an injured or torn meniscus by:
- Wearing a knee brace if your knee is prone to weakness or instability
- Gradually building up to intense sports or exercise activities
- Wearing proper athletic footwear that are suitable for the sports activity you’re participating in
- Strengthening the muscles that support and stabilise your knee
Seek professional treatment for meniscus injury
It may be possible to walk or function on a knee with a meniscus injury or tear so some may want to skip the doctor’s visit. However, meniscus injuries will get progressively worse as the inflammation sets in, becoming painful, stiff, swollen and unstable.
Untreated knee injuries can lead to further complications, such as serious knee mobility issues and pain that require a more invasive surgery than the initial treatment or meniscus tear repair. There is also an increased possibility of early development of knee osteoarthritis without proper meniscus injury treatment.
Like many other knee injuries, meniscus tears can be painful and debilitating even though it is quite common. A sports and orthopaedic clinic like OrthofootMD can diagnose, treat and support you through your injury. Dr Gowreeson Thevandran is a well-experienced orthopaedic surgeon for knee conditions and injuries. Set up a consultation with Dr Gowreeson so you don’t have to suffer with knee pain and injuries.