Your knee health is important for many aspects of your life. From walking to playing sports, this joint helps support your body and allows you to move. You have two menisci in each knee, and if one gets injured, this can cause significant symptoms and keep you sidelined from your normal activities.
At Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Metairie, Louisiana, Robert Douglas Bostick III, MD, provides comprehensive treatment options for knee injuries. In this blog, Dr. Bostick explains what a meniscus is, signs of an injury, and how it can be treated.
When you suffer a knee injury, Dr. Bostick and his team can provide a quick evaluation and compassionate care to help heal your meniscus tear.
What is a meniscus?
Your knee joint is formed at the junction of your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). Your patella, or kneecap, is situated in the front of your joint, providing some protection from injury.
Your menisci are tough pieces of cartilage that are situated on either side of your knee joint. They are positioned between your femur and tibia, and they provide protection and shock absorption for the bones in your joint.
The menisci help distribute your weight throughout your knee joint, and they’re vital to your knee joint’s stability.
Your menisci are prone to tearing, either from direct injury or wear and tear over time. When this happens, your bones are left unprotected and vulnerable to wear.
Meniscus tears can happen during sports or high-impact activities. These injuries are especially common in sports where there is a lot of quick pivoting, such as football, basketball, and soccer.
Your menisci are made of cartilage, which is also prone to deterioration over time. As you get older, a meniscus could tear from age related changes and day-to-day wear.
Signs of a meniscus tear
Your menisci are tough, but they’re not completely protected from injury. If you tear a meniscus, you’ll likely know right away. Sports injuries or direct trauma to a meniscus can result in a number of telltale signs, including:
- Pain with twisting and rotation
- Stiffness in your knee joint
- Swelling around your knee
- Trouble fully straightening your knee
- Your knee giving out
- Difficulty moving your knee fully
When you think you’ve injured your knee, it’s important to get it checked out. Your menisci play a vital role in the overall health of your knee joint. If they get torn or injured, this may lead to faster degeneration of your joint.
Pain, stiffness, and swelling as you get older are also signs of a meniscus tear. Furthermore, degenerative changes can cause tears, which can also lead to the symptoms above.
Available treatments for meniscus tears
When you’re suspicious of a meniscus tear, get in to see Dr. Bostick as soon as you can. The longer you let the tear go, the more damage you can do to your joint.
To begin treatment, Dr. Bostick first examines your knee and orders imaging studies. Then, Dr. Bostick determines how to treat the tear by its location, severity, and your overall activity level. Not all meniscus tears need surgical repair. If you need conservative treatment, it may involve:
When it comes to treating meniscus tears, doctors often recommend the RICE method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If you have a meniscus tear, Dr. Bostick will likely recommend this treatment to help reduce inflammation and begin the healing process.
Along with using the RICE method, Dr. Bostick may suggest using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to ease discomfort and reduce swelling in your knee.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that is used to help heal damaged and injured areas of the body. The platelets — which are cells that contain powerful growth proteins — are harvested from your own blood and injected in the treatment areas to spur healing and tissue regeneration.
If other treatments don’t work, Dr. Bostick can give you a steroid injection to reduce the inflammation around the injury and help get rid of your pain.
In some cases, Dr. Bostick recommends surgery to repair or trim out the tear in the meniscus. This is usually a last-resort treatment, and it’s often determined by the patient’s age and how active the patient would like to be.
If you’re exhibiting signs of a meniscus tear, don’t wait to get help. To learn more, call 504-541-5800 or book an appointment online with Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine today.