Knees contain two menisci, one on the inside (medial meniscus) and one on the outside (lateral meniscus). These layers of hard cartilage conform to the shape of the end of the thigh (femur) and shin (tibia) bones, which the menisci separate. The job of the menisci is to distribute the weight evenly across the leg bones and help keep the knee joint stable. When a meniscus develops a tear, there is pain, swelling and limited movement within the knee.
Reasons For Meniscus Tears
There are two main reasons for meniscus tears. They are usually caused by injuries or degenerative issues in older adults can lead to the cartilage being more brittle and easily torn. Traumatic injuries that result in meniscus tears are often when the knee is bent and then twisted, which is common in person injury cases such as: slip and falls, car accidents, construction accidents. A tear can happen any time there is a forceful twist in the knee, causing the end of the femur to grind against the tibia and resulting in the meniscus between them to be damaged.
Diagnosing Meniscus Tears
The symptoms associated with a meniscus tear are often immediate. There may be pain and a popping sound when the injury occurs, followed by swelling. However, some people do not start noticing there is something wrong until later. They may have the following symptoms:
- Pain when walking or running for longer periods of time
- Popping noise
- Buckling or locking
If a torn meniscus is suspected, a physician will perform a physical examination of the knee. They will look at range of motion and evaluate areas of tenderness. They may also use an MRI to confirm there is a tear.
Treatment Options for Knee Injuries Involving a Torn Meniscus
The treatment for torn meniscus depends on the patient and the extent of the injury. Some people choose not to have surgery and try to allow the injury to heal with rest and anti-inflammatory treatments such as ice and elevation. However, if the tear is large or is causing pain and movement issues, surgery is usually needed.
There are few surgical options that are used, depending on extent of the tear. In the past, surgeons removed the entire meniscus. This may help the patient for the present time but usually leads to additional problems in the future. Options have increased with the advancement of arthroscopic surgery.
- Meniscectomy. If the tear is small, the surgeon can often just remove the damaged portion of the meniscus. The surgery is minimally invasive and patients can usually walk again within a few days to a week.
- Meniscus repair. If the tear is more severe, a repair of the cartilage can be performed. This includes suturing or tacking the torn meniscus together. Rehabilitation is longer, usually 3-4 months with use of a knee brace.
- Meniscus transplant. If the tear is severe but cannot be repaired due to the extent or location, it may need to be completely removed. If the patient is younger, a cadaver transplant may be an option. Rehabilitation usually will include 4-6 weeks on crutches and several months before full recovery is met.
Depending on the extent of a meniscus tear, there are many options available to get the patient back on their feet again within a few months. However, due to the injury, even with surgery there can be additional problems down the road. Some patients will go on to have full knee replacements later in life.Chicago Injury Attorneys for Knee Injuries Including MCL Accidents
If you sustained a knee injury, such as a torn meniscus, in an accident you likely have legal rights with entitle you to compensation for your injuries. As established personal injury lawyers in Chicago, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help you recover all of the damages that you are entitled to in relation to your case. A person who sustained a knee injury may recover damages for: medical expenses (emergency room treatment, orthopedic care, physical therapy, medication and surgery), time lost from work and disability when the injury results in lasting problems. We offer free consultations and never charge a fee without a recovery for you.