Torn meniscus can lead to more injury if not treated

Monday, November 5, 2018

One of the most common injuries to the knee is known as the torn meniscus. But because the word “meniscus” is not as commonly used in the English language, many may not know what it means. Each knee has two menisci, which are C-shaped pieces of cartilage that serve as a cushion between your lower leg (shinbone) and your upper leg (thighbone.)

“When the meniscus gets torn, usually because of an injury such as a fall or hit taken during a sports activity, it can cause some pretty significant pain,” said Richard White, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Fitzgibbon Orthopedic and Sports Medicine. “Pain is not the only indicator, however. There is usually swelling, stiffness, and the torn meniscus can actually block the proper movement of the knee, causing you to have trouble extending your leg straight.”

Activities that can lead to a torn meniscus include sports or work that cause a forceful twist or rotation of the knee — such as pivoting or suddenly stopping. Football, basketball and other contact supports often have athletes who have experienced a torn meniscus. Lifting heavy objects, squatting or kneeling can also lead to a torn meniscus. Additionally, older individuals with degenerative changes in their knee can experience a torn meniscus without doing anything at all out of the ordinary.

Other symptoms of a torn meniscus include a popping sensation when you move and you attempt to flex or extend your knee. You may actually feel as if your knee is locked in place when you try to move it.

“There are some conservative treatments that one should use, including icing and elevating the knee, rest, and NSAID pain relievers,” said White. “But the fact is, if you experience any of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor. You can actually cause more injury, and that is something that nobody wants. Surgical repair may be required.”

Those who experience meniscus tears, like other injuries, are at risk for developing osteoarthritis in the affected joint as they age, so proper care from the beginning is recommended.

If you suspect you may have torn your meniscus or are experiencing other pain or stiffness in your knee or other joints, the caring professionals at Fitzgibbon Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, including Dr. Richard White, are available to help you. Call 660-886-8414 to make your appointment.