The knee is the largest joint in the body. The knee joint allows the leg to bend where the femur (thighbone) attached to the tibia (shinbone). There are two menisci present in each of your knees. Those are C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act like a cushion between your shinbone and your thighbone. It is because of our complex flexible knee mechanism that the knee flexes and extends, allowing the body to perform activities from walking and running to climbing and squatting. The quadriceps and hamstring muscles are responsible for moving the knee joint.
Meniscal injuries may be the most common knee injury. Usually, meniscus tears are related to trauma, but a significant trauma or physical injury is not always necessary for a torn meniscus. Too much squatting, too much pressure on the knee joint or a sudden twist can tear the meniscus.
Signs and Symptoms of a torn meniscus:
Most meniscal injuries can be diagnosed by obtaining a detailed history. There may be acute onset of pain and you may actually hear or feel a pop in your knee if its a major meniscus injury. Just like any other injury, there is an inflammatory response, including pain and swelling. The swelling usually takes a few hours to develop, and depending upon the amount of pain, the knee may become difficult to move.
Causes of a torn meniscus:
Lifting something heavy when the pressure is directed to your knee joints
Forceful twisting of your knees
In older adults, degenerative changes of the knee may contribute to a torn meniscus
Treating a torn meniscus:
Avoid those activities that aggravate your knee pain, even if you feel pain while walking. You might have to use crutches to take pressure off your knee and let it heal. Giving your injured knee complete rest is the key.
Icing can reduce knee pain and swelling. Use an ice-pack on your knee for about 15 minutes. Do this everyday to relieve your knee from pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help to ease the pain.
Physical therapy can be very useful for torn meniscus. It can help you strengthen the muscles around your knee and in your legs to help stabilize and support the knee joint. The goals of physical therapy treatment are to minimize the pain, normalize gait, prevent muscular atrophy, proprioception and maintain cardiovascular fitness.
If your knee remains painful, stiff or locked, you might have to undergo a surgery. Surgery may be done through tiny incisions using an arthroscope.
Recovery and rehabilitation becomes a long-term commitment. You have to ensure that you keep the muscles around your knee strong to promote joint stability. Also maintaining your body weight becomes crucial. You may have to avoid those activities that cause pain to your knee joints. It is best to seek advice from a professional physiotherapist to be able to deal with your torn meniscus.