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Meniscus Tear in Singapore: Leaving it untreated

2nd Jul 2024 | 0 comments

Knee injuries can affect individuals of all ages, from young athletes to older adults. They can significantly impact daily activities, leading to pain and mobility issues. A meniscus tear is one of the most common types of knee injury and can be addressed with prompt treatment.

However, some may wonder if the meniscus will heal without intervention. This article will explore what can happen if it is left untreated.

What is the Meniscus?

The meniscus is a cartilage piece located in the knee joint. It is curved, resembling the shape of a C. Each knee has two menisci, consisting of the medial meniscus on the interior and the lateral meniscus on the anterior.

These cartilage structures act as shock absorbers between the thigh bone and the shin bone, aiding in weight distribution and knee stability. Healthy menisci are vital for smooth knee movement and overall joint health.

What Is a Meniscus Tear, and What Would Happen if Untreated?

A meniscus tear is a tear in one of the two C-shaped pieces of cartilage in the knee joint. Complications can develop if you leave it untreated. The following are some possible complications.

Chronic pain

One of the most common outcomes of an untreated meniscus tear is persistent pain. This pain can interfere with daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or even sitting for extended periods. The discomfort may be constant or flare up during specific knee movements.

Increased tear size

A meniscus tear that is not treated can worsen over time. Activities that involve knee movement can exacerbate the tear, causing it to enlarge. A larger tear is typically more challenging to treat and may require more extensive surgical intervention.

Knee instability

An untreated tear can lead to knee instability, making it more likely for the knee to give way during physical activity. This instability can increase the risk of further injuries, including damage to other structures within the knee.

Limited mobility

You might experience difficulty bending and straightening the knee, which can affect your ability to perform everyday tasks. In severe cases, the knee may lock, preventing you from moving it freely.

Reduced physical activity

Pain, instability, and reduced mobility from an untreated meniscus tear can lead to a decrease in physical activity. This reduction in activity can have broader health implications, including weight gain, decreased cardiovascular fitness, and a general decline in physical well-being.

What Are the Causes of A Meniscus Tear?

Meniscus tears are not only a result of sudden movement but can also be a consequence of impact or natural changes to the joint due to ageing.

  • Sudden twisting or pivoting: Often seen in sports activities, a sudden twist or turn can lead to a meniscus tear.
  • Direct impact: Trauma to the knee, such as during contact sports, can cause a tear.
  • Degenerative changes: The meniscus can weaken and tear in older adults, due to ageing and general wear and tear.
  • Deep squatting or heavy lifting: Activities that put excessive pressure on the knee joint can lead to a tear.

Signs and Symptoms of Meniscus Tear

  • Pain: During movements and especially when twisting or rotating the knee.
  • Swelling: Gradual swelling over 24-48 hours after the injury.
  • Stiffness: Difficulty bending and straightening the knee.
  • Locking: The knee may get jammed in one position.
  • Popping sensation: Some people report feeling or hearing a pop at the time of injury.

Diagnosis of Meniscus Tear

Before recommending a treatment method, a doctor will diagnose the meniscus tear with a physical examination and imaging tests. During the physical exam, they will assess the knee’s range of motion, stability, and tenderness. Common diagnostic tests include:

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Produces detailed images of the knee’s soft tissues, including the meniscus.
  • X-ray: While it doesn’t show meniscal tears, it helps rule out other causes of knee pain, such as fractures.

Meniscus Tear Treatment

Non-surgical treatment

Rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE): Initial treatment to reduce pain and swelling.
Physical therapy: Strengthening and stretching exercises to regain knee function and mobility.
Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs to address pain and swelling.

Surgical treatment

If non-surgical methods prove insufficient, a knee arthroscopy will be considered. It is a minimally invasive surgery to stitch the torn pieces of the meniscus together. A tiny camera (arthroscope) is used and inserted into small incisions. This technique enables the surgeon to precisely target the torn meniscus for repair, promoting faster recovery and preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.

how Long Does a Meniscus Tear Take to Heal?

Post-surgery, you will likely need to use crutches for 4 to 6 weeks to avoid putting weight on the repaired meniscus. Rehabilitation can last 3 to 6 months, focusing on gradual strengthening and mobility exercises. Most people return to their normal activities within this period, but it can take up to a year for full recovery and return to high-impact sports.

For patients who were treated with non-surgical methods, the typical healing time is about 6 to 8 weeks, but depending on progress, some may extend to 12 weeks.

Meniscus Tear Treatment in Singapore

Leaving a meniscus tear untreated can significantly affect your knee health and overall well-being. Prompt treatment is key to assessing the extent of the tear and determining the most appropriate treatment plan, from non-surgical to surgical intervention.

Spire Orthopaedic can help mitigate the risks of meniscus tear, restore your knee function, and support a faster recovery. We provide specialised care for patients in Singapore suffering from meniscus tears, ensuring they receive treatment tailored to the severity of their knee condition.

Book a consultation with us today.