A meniscus tear is a painful and debilitating injury that’s caused by a sudden impact while playing a sport or when lifting a heavy object. Matthew J. Crawford, MD, PhD, offers comprehensive diagnostics and treatments for patients in and around Austin, Texas. If you’ve suffered a knee injury and are concerned about tearing your meniscus, call and make an appointment with Dr. Crawford for expert orthopaedic care.
The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that provides cushioning between the femur and the tibia in the knee. Technically, the meniscus is two pieces or menisci.
The meniscus plays a critical role in the knee, absorbing shock and minimizing wear and tear on the articular cartilage, which can help to prevent arthritis. The meniscus also plays a role in helping you to maintain balance.
Unlike many of the tissues in your body, cartilage, including the meniscus, doesn’t heal on its own. This means that the meniscus is highly susceptible to degenerative conditions and weakening over time due to general wear and tear from normal daily activities.
The most common injury to the meniscus is a tear. Tears are caused by a variety of injuries and conditions and range in severity. The most common form of a meniscus tear is due to an acute injury when the joint is twisted or jerked in an abnormal direction. These injuries are often sustained while playing a sport or when lifting something heavy, although they can also occur if the meniscus is weakened due to natural degeneration.
Meniscus tears are classified by their severity and also by whether the tear is stable or unstable. These categorizations are used to determine whether or not surgery is necessary to repair your knee. For example, a severe unstable tear can result in the meniscus slipping out of place and causing severe pain, swelling, and mobility issues. This kind of injury usually requires surgical repair. However, a mild, stable tear might involve fraying along the edges of the cartilage and may not even cause much pain, let alone need surgical intervention.
If you’ve injured your knee or are experiencing pain, swelling, or mobility issues, you should make an appointment with Dr. Crawford to get it checked out. Like with most medical conditions, meniscus tears are more easily treated when caught early.
If you experience an acute meniscus tear, you may hear a popping sound and a pulling sensation in your knee. You may experience some swelling and pain, especially when you walk or put pressure on your knee.
Degenerative tears are typically less noticeable, and many people can get on with their normal daily activities.
Not necessarily. Dr. Crawfod makes his suggestions for treatment following a thorough exam. In many cases, patients with mild to moderate meniscus tears can get back to normal activities with some rest, ice, and a period of immobilization. If the tear is severe, surgery may be needed. Dr. Crawford provides customized care for each patient and provides you with the best medical treatment for your unique situation.
If you're concerned about the state of your meniscus, give the office of Dr. Crawford a call or request an appointment using the online booking feature.