Meniscus tears are popular in contact (football) and non-contact sports (volleyball and soccer). They can happen when an individual abruptly changes direction while running, and they frequently happen in conjunction with other knee issues, like an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Meniscus tears are particularly dangerous for older athletes because the meniscus weakens with age. They are present in more than 40% of people aged 65 and up. Your West Chester orthopedic surgeon will perform a comprehensive exam to identify a meniscus tear.
- Loss of knee motion
The term “knee loss of motion” refers to the patient’s inability to fully bend or straighten the knee, particularly when compared to the opposite knee. It can be caused by various pathological conditions within the knee (such as osteoarthritis, weakness of muscles surrounding the knee.
There is nothing more troubling to a doctor assessing a patient with a meniscus tear than a locked knee. This could mean that the meniscus tear has grown large enough to get caught between the femur and the tibia, preventing further knee motion. Suppose the knee is still locked at the time of assessment; a surgeon may be able to “unlock” it in the clinic using special maneuvers to re-establish knee motion until the meniscus tear can be resolved surgically. If this is not possible, immediate surgery (within a few days) is usually required to restore knee motion.
- Current injuries
If your knee felt fine before suffering an injury (typically a twisting-type injury with the foot planted), this could signify a meniscus tear.
- Swelling of the knee
Consider swelling in the knee as if a tiny pebble had landed in your eye. A meniscus tear causes the knee to swell in the same way that gravel irritates the eye, causing it to become red and tear. This is particularly true if the swelling occurs during physical activity.
- Knee ache
Many orthopedic specialists are trained to identify different types of knee pain and to relate the pain with the liable injured structure in the knee. In the event of a meniscus tear, the pain will be felt along the joint line (where the two bones of the knee, the femur, and tibia, come together). The pain will be on the inside or outside of the knee. Unfortunately, this type of pain is also linked to knee arthritis. Therefore, it is critical to obtain x-rays to determine the extent of arthritis in the knee.
- Clicking or popping within the knee
When the meniscus tears, it becomes a foreign body inside the knee and may obstruct joint motion. If the meniscus becomes tangled between the two bones of the knee, it can cause an audible click or pop, which can be excruciatingly painful.
Loss of motion in a meniscus tear is generally caused by either swelling within the knee or the inability to properly bend or extend the knee due to the meniscus getting in the way of knee motion. Call Ronald Hess, MS, DO or book a meeting online to learn more about meniscus tear treatments.