Injuries to the meniscus are one of the most common knee injuries and are the reason for 10% to 20% of orthopedic surgeries. Meniscus tears can keep you off your feet for weeks.
Keep reading to learn about what you should know about meniscus injuries.
An Overview of Meniscus Injuries
Your knees have two menisci each which are cartilage pads between the tibia and your thigh bone. It protects the joint when bending, walking, running, jumping, and so on. It also stabilizes the joint and protects against wear and tear.
The meniscus is quite easy to injury. It can become damaged as you age, with a severe twist of the knee joint or impact. A torn meniscus is one of the most common injuries experienced by athletes who play sports like football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, skiing, and wrestling.
Meniscus injuries are also a common effect of car accidents. This type of injury is not uncommon in an accident like low-speed rear-end collisions, which are car accidents happening at 10 to 15 miles per hour.
In these collisions, the knee may hit the dashboard or center console, forcing an artificial divide between the shin and thigh bones, stressing the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments to the point of injury.
How Does a Torn Meniscus Feel?
A minor meniscus tear will cause discomfort and swelling lasting a few weeks. A tear that is more severe has worse, more noticeable symptoms, such as
- Stiffness or inability to straighten or bend the knee
- The sensation you joint is insatiable or giving way
- Effusion, or build-up of fluid inside the knee
A moderate to severe tear causes pain and tenderness at the sides and front of the knee and upon touch. You will experience gradually worsening swelling and limited mobility. Over the course of a few days without treatment, you may be unable to fully extend your leg, fully bend, or bear weight.
In some cases of severe tears, pieces of the damaged cartilage can enter the joint space. This causes a characteristic locking or popping sensation.
The severity of symptoms depends on age, the extent of the injury, and how often you are able to stay off the knee.
Diagnosing and Treating a Meniscus Injury
A doctor evaluates the knee joint for a suspected meniscus injury by bending the leg in different positions, testing the range of motion, and checking for a pop or click. Additionally, they may use imaging tests like an MRI to view the soft tissue and/or an x-ray to look for signs of arthritis.
Treating a torn meniscus depends on the severity and location of the injury. Certain types of tears require surgery for a full recovery. Most surgeries are done arthroscopically and take under one hour.
Recovery and the Next Steps
Recovery takes about 6 to 8 weeks after injury or after surgery, so long as the proper care is taken during the healing process. Of course, this timeframe varies. Recovering from such an injury can keep you out of work for months.
If you tore your meniscus in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, and are wondering what to do next, go here to find out more.
Understanding Meniscus Injuries Made Simple
An essential part of understanding meniscus injuries is knowing how to take care of your knee in recovery. Full recovery can take months, and rushing the process can set you back. If the carelessness of another caused your injury, reach out to a lawyer to see if you have a case.
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