|Meniscal Injuries (Injuries to the Mensici)|
The menisci can be easily injured by the force of rotating the knee while bearing weight. A partial or total tear may occur when a person quickly twists or rotates the upper leg while the foot stays still (for example, when dribbling a basketball around an opponent or turning to hit a tennis ball). If the tear is tiny, the meniscus stays connected to the front and back of the knee; if the tear is large, the meniscus may be left hanging by a thread of cartilage. The seriousness of a tear depends on its location and extent.
SymptomsGenerally, when people injure a meniscus, they feel some pain, particularly when the knee is straightened. If the pain is mild, the person may continue moving. Severe pain may occur if a fragment of the meniscus catches between the femur and the tibia. Swelling may occur soon after injury if there is damage to blood vessels. Swelling may also occur several hours later if there is inflammation of the joint lining (synovium). Sometimes, an injury that occurred in the past but was not treated becomes painful months or years later, particularly if the knee is injured a second time. After any injury, the knee may click, lock, feel weak, or give way. Although symptoms of meniscal injury may disappear on their own, they frequently persist or return and require treatment.
DiagnosisIn addition to listening to your description of the onset of pain and swelling, the doctor may perform a physical examination and take x rays of the knee. An MRI may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis. Occasionally, the doctor may use arthroscopy to help diagnose a meniscal tear.
TreatmentIf the tear is minor and the pain and other symptoms go away, the doctor may recommend a muscle-strengthening program. The following exercises are designed to build up the quadriceps and hamstring muscles and increase flexibility and strength after injury to the meniscus:
Before beginning any type of exercise program, consult your doctor or physical therapist to learn which exercises are appropriate for you and how to do them correctly, because doing the wrong exercise or exercising improperly can cause problems. A health care professional can also advise you on how to warm up safely and when to avoid exercising a joint affected by arthritis.
If your lifestyle is limited by the symptoms or the problem, the doctor may perform arthroscopic or open surgery to see the extent of injury and to remove or repair the tear. Most young athletes are able to return to active sports after meniscus repair.
Recovery after surgical repair takes several weeks. The best results of treatment for meniscal injury are achieved in people who do not show articular cartilage changes and who have an intact anterior cruciate ligament.
Treatments & Therapies
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