Knee pain can be debilitating, affecting your movement and your quality of life. There are several causes, one of which is a meniscus tear. If left untreated it can worsen and cause long-term complications.
Read on to identify the key signs of a meniscus tear, and potential treatments, including surgical options in Singapore.
Before delving deeper into the signs of a meniscus tear, it’s essential to understand what it is and why it plays a crucial role in your knee’s health.
The meniscus is a C-shaped cartilage located within the knee joint. Each knee has two menisci situated on the inner and outer sides. These structures act as shock absorbers and stabilisers for the knee, helping distribute weight and provide cushioning between the thigh (femur) and the shin (tibia) bones.
The menisci are made up of tough, rubbery tissue that helps absorb the impact of movements like walking, running, jumping, and even standing. They also play a critical role in stabilising knee joints so the bones glide smoothly during motion.
The menisci are susceptible to injury because of their positioning and function, particularly when the knee is subjected to sudden or excessive twisting, rotating, or impact. An injury can lead to the following signs and symptoms.
Pain is usually the most noticeable symptom of a meniscus tear. The pain is typically localised to the inner or outer side of the knee, depending on whether the tear occurs in the medial or lateral meniscus.
The pain might be sharp, intense, or even a dull ache, and it can worsen during activities that involve bending, twisting, or rotating the knee.
Swelling around the knee joint is a standard indicator of a meniscus tear. The injury triggers an inflammatory response, leading to the accumulation of fluid in the knee.
This swelling can cause the knee to feel puffy and tight. If you’ve noticed your knee becoming puffy or swollen without any apparent external cause, consider the possibility of a meniscus tear.
A meniscus tear can also result in a limited range of motion in the knee. It could be due to the damaged cartilage if you find it challenging to extend or bend your knee without discomfort fully.
If you feel like something is blocking your knee from moving smoothly, it could indicate a potential meniscus tear.
Locking of the knee occurs when a torn piece of the meniscus gets lodged in the joint, preventing normal movement. This symptom can lead to sudden episodes where your knee feels “stuck” in a particular position.
If you’ve been experiencing instances where your knee momentarily locks up, and you need to manipulate it to regain mobility, a meniscus tear could be the underlying issue.
Do you notice a catching or popping sensation in your knee during movement? This sensation could be indicative of a meniscus tear.
The torn fragment of the meniscus can disrupt the smooth gliding of the joint, resulting in these unusual sensations. If your knee feels catching or popping, it’s worth investigating further.
If your knee feels unstable, as though it might give way or buckle under your weight, it could be due to a meniscus tear. The damaged cartilage can affect the stability of the knee joint, making it feel unsteady, especially during activities that involve weight-bearing or sudden changes in direction.
If you suspect you have a meniscus tear, you should seek a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
The severity of the tear, its location, and your overall health will determine the best course of action. In some cases, conservative treatments might be sufficient, while in others surgical intervention will be necessary.
Conservative treatments include rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), and anti-inflammatory medications to manage pain and swelling. Physical therapy can also be beneficial to strengthen the muscles surrounding the meniscus and improve joint stability.
For more severe meniscus tears, especially those that don’t respond well to conservative treatments, surgery might be recommended.
Knee arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure for repairing or trimming a torn meniscus. This minimally invasive procedure involves making tiny incisions and using a micro camera to guide the surgical instruments.
During the procedure, the surgeon will either repair the torn meniscus by stitching the torn edges together or trim away the damaged portion. Recovery after meniscus surgery typically involves physical therapy to help you build strength and improve knee mobility. Your surgeon and a physical therapist will work together to design a customised rehabilitation plan that suits your condition.
Spire Orthopaedic Centre offers advanced medical facilities and our skilled orthopaedic surgeons are ready to help. If you’re experiencing any telltale signs discussed in this article, book a consultation with us for an evaluation.