Meniscal Tears Specialist

Meniscal Tears Q & A

What is a meniscal tear?

Your menisci are C-shaped cartilage discs that exist between the two main bones of your knee at the end of your thigh bone and the top of your shin bone. There are two menisci. One is on the inner side of your knee next to your opposite knee. The other is on the opposite (outer) part of your knee. The menisci serve to reduce forces within your knee. This protection helps minimize wear of the cartilage that lines the ends of your knee bones. Additionally, the menisci help stabilize your knee and provide other less critical roles that assist in normal knee function and health.

How do meniscal tears occur?

As we age, particularly when knee arthritis is present, degenerative meniscal tears can develop. These are tears that result from “wear and tear” slowly over time. These tears differ from meniscal tears that occur abruptly from a single event. Activities that can lead to such traumatic meniscal tears are squatting, twisting, and cutting. As a result, meniscal tears commonly result along with more significant knee injuries like ACL tears. Finally, tears frequently occur from a combination of trauma and degeneration. These meniscal tears often arise from subtle, perhaps imperceivable trauma, in a somewhat already degenerated meniscus.

What are the common symptoms of meniscal tears?

Degenerative meniscal tears sometimes do not cause any symptoms. Traumatic tears, on the other hand, frequently are symptomatic. Often there is pain deep in your knee or more locally on one side or the other. The pain often increases with activities that require twisting or squatting. Swelling in your knee is also often present. This swelling may lead to stiffness and pain in the back or front of your knee. “Mechanical symptoms” can sometimes be present as well. These symptoms can consist of clicking, catching, and on occasion, even locking, in which your knee can get stuck in a bent position.

How are meniscal tears diagnosed?

As the symptoms are often very telling, the doctors at Town Center Orthopaedic Associates can frequently diagnose meniscal tears after an examination in the office. Your physician will often obtain X-Rays to rule out arthritis and other knee issues that share similar symptoms to meniscal tears. An MRI of your knee is sometimes needed as well. If so, our staff will help make arrangements for you to get an MRI as efficiently as possible.

How are meniscal tears treated?

Different treatments are appropriate depending on the type of tear you have, how much it affects you, and your needs and goals. Depending on the tear type and your symptoms, nonoperative treatment, including medications and physical therapy, may be all that is needed. If so, our excellent physical therapists will help get you feeling better in no time.

In other cases, your tear may require surgery. In these cases, you and your surgeon will discuss the appropriate surgery. Two options exist, either removing the torn piece (meniscectomy) or a meniscal repair. During a repair, your surgeon uses small strings (sutures) to tie the torn pieces together or to the adjacent tissue. Your particular meniscal tear characteristics, your age, activity level, and other associated knee issues will help determine which surgery is best for you. Either way, your surgery can be performed minimally invasively through a couple of small holes on an outpatient basis.

No matter the surgery needed, our skilled knee surgeons are proficient in the latest and most effective techniques. You will often require physical therapy after surgery. So our surgeons and physical therapists will work together to get you and your knee feeling great again.

If you think you have a meniscal tear, please call or schedule online to make a convenient appointment.

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