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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 and/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 – to reduce swelling, lean back or lay down during rest, and lift the leg up higher than the heart

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 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).

  • A torn meniscus can cause long-term problems, constant rubbing of the torn meniscus on the cartilage may cause the joint surface to become worn, leading to knee osteoarthritis.

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