Meniscus Tears: Why You Should Not Let Them Go Untreated

Sports are a fun way to stay in shape and spend time with friends and family. However, they also can lead to injury, especially in your knees. One common injury that you could suffer in sports or by other mechanisms is a meniscus tear. Although this may not seem like a serious injury, you don’t want to let it go too long.

At Bay Oaks Orthopedics, our team has the solution for any orthopedic injury that you sustain. Dr. Anthony Melillo is our board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in meniscus injuries. He analyzes your symptoms and suggests the best plan of treatment to manage your pain and get you back on your feet.

Purpose of your meniscus

Your knee is one of the most-used joints in your body, so it needs as much support as possible. This joint is the junction between your tibia and femur, also known as your shin and thigh bones. To cushion these bones from rubbing together, you have two menisci in each knee to provide support and comfort to your knee.

Your meniscus is a tough piece of cartilage that provides cushioning in your joint. On either side of your kneecap is a piece of meniscus cartilage, known as the medial and lateral meniscus. You may tear only one side, or you could potentially tear both. Symptoms depend on the severity of your injury, and may include:

You may also struggle to straighten your knee, due to the swelling that occurs when you tear your meniscus. However, you could also experience a locking sensation in your knee, where it’s hard for you to move your knee in general. Understanding your symptoms is only half the battle though; knowing what causes this injury is also important to prevent repeat injuries in the future.

Causes of meniscus tears

Meniscus tears are certainly more prevalent in sports that require a lot of sudden directional changes or abrupt stopping. Some sports have a higher risk of meniscus tears due to this fact. These sports include:

However, it isn’t just sports that lead to meniscus injuries; any activity that leads to unnatural rotation of your knee or pivoting quickly may end up in a meniscus tear. Squatting deeper than normal or lifting heavy items also puts a lot of strain on your knee, leading to injury.

Meniscus injuries aren’t always linked to a certain event. As you get age, degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis wear the cartilage in your knee joint down, which also causes meniscus tears over time. You’re much more likely to suffer this type of injury when you’re over the age of 30.

No matter what caused your meniscus injury, it’s important for you to seek treatment as soon as possible, to prevent more damage to your knee.

Why to get prompt treatment

Much like any other type of injury, the treatment our team suggests depends on the severity of your condition. For example, your meniscus is separated into different zones — a red zone and two white zones. 

The outside third, or the red zone, of your meniscus has a very good blood supply, so if your tear is only affecting that area, it might be able to heal on its own. However, if your tear enters into the inner two thirds of your meniscus, also known as the white zone, there isn’t much blood supply, meaning you’ll need more aggressive treatment.

Small tears may only require conservative treatments if you’re not experiencing problems with stability or your joint locking. These treatments may involve things like rest, ice, and stretching. However, not all tears respond to this treatment, meaning you could require surgery to get the use of your knee back.

You don’t want to put off surgical repair if this is what our doctors suggest, because your meniscus won’t heal on its own if your tear extends past the red zone into the white zones. With no blood supply, your meniscus tear may get worse and cause more wear and tear on your joint surface.

Surgery helps to relieve the pain related to your meniscus injury, either by removing the damaged part of your meniscus or repairing the tear. Which type of surgery our team suggests depends on several factors, like your age and the condition of your meniscus. 

If you’ve suffered a meniscus tear, don’t put your treatment off. Call us at 281-223-1391, or book an appointment online with Dr. Malillo using our online booking tool.

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