A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries. Any activity that causes you to forcefully twist or rotate your knee, especially when putting the pressure of your full weight on it, can lead to a torn meniscus. Fortunately, our doctors here at RestorePDX offer a number of non-surgical treatment options for meniscal tears that can help many patients significantly relieve pain and other symptoms caused by the condition.
- What Is the Meniscus?
- Meniscus Tear Causes
- Meniscus Tear Symptoms
- Meniscus Tear Treatment Options
- Meniscus Tear Treatment Recovery
What Is the Meniscus?
The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that acts like a cushion between your shinbone and your thighbone. Each of your knees has two menisci. This important cartilage essentially serves as a protectant, absorbing the impact of the upper and lower areas of the knees. However, if the meniscus becomes injured, or if it degrades due to progressive wear and tear over the years, it can have debilitating effects on an individual’s day-to-day life. In fact, the pain, swelling, and stiffness that can occur as the result of a meniscus tear can even make one feel unstable on their feet, as though the entire knee may collapse.
What Are the Common Causes of Meniscal Tears?
Meniscus tears, also referred to as “meniscal tears”, can result from any activity that causes you to forcefully twist or rotate your knee, such as aggressive pivoting or sudden stops and turns. Even kneeling, deep squatting, or lifting something heavy can sometimes lead to a torn meniscus. In older adults, degenerative changes of the knee may contribute to a torn meniscus since the natural aging process can also cause the meniscus to weaken.
What Are the Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear?
If you’ve torn your meniscus, you may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- A popping sensation in the knee
- Swelling or stiffness in the knee area
- Pain, especially when twisting or rotating your knee
- Difficulty straightening your knee fully or experiencing what feels like a block to movement of your knee, as if your knee were locked in place
If you feel that you are suffering from the effects of a meniscal tear, our team of experts at RestorePDX can perform an evaluation to determine the extent of the problem. X-rays and other imaging technologies can help pinpoint the concern and provide a guide for a customized treatment plan designed to alleviate the symptoms of this common condition.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Meniscus Tear?
The best treatment option for meniscus conditions will depend on the cause of the concern and a variety of factors unique to each patient. Those suffering from degenerative or age-related conditions—which are essentially synonymous with osteoarthritis of the knee—with no true knee “locking” or “catching” can often be treated successfully with injectable options designed to help those suffering with the latter condition.
Non-surgical treatments for meniscus tears at our practice include injectable procedures such as:
Cortisone is a powerful steroid that can be a very effective remedy for inflammation and swelling. Precise injections of cortisone into the joint may help decrease the pain and inflammation caused by meniscal tears.
Viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid derivatives involves the delicate injection of a solution that can enhance lubrication around the joints. This can help relieve pain from the meniscus tear and improve “shock absorption” in the area.
Options such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are being used experimentally to provide a healthier environment to promote healing in the degenerated joint. These regenerative-type injections have shown great promise with meniscal tears and other common conditions. PRP therapy involves the careful extraction of properties taken from a sample of your own blood. The natural platelet-rich plasma can be injected into the meniscal areas to help the joints repair themselves.
All of our treatment options for meniscal tears can typically be performed on an outpatient basis here at our practice with no need for an overnight hospital stay.
Is There a Recovery Process After Meniscus Tear Treatment?
One of the many advantages of injectable treatments for meniscus tears is the fact that the recovery process is much less extensive when compared to knee surgery. While recovery is different for each patient based on their specific condition and the type of treatment they undergo, many patients are able to resume normal daily activities less than a week after the procedure. Patients who are engaged in sports may be able to return to those activities in three to six months, which can be a significantly less amount of time than required for patients who have had knee surgery. Discomfort from the injections can often be controlled with over-the-counter medication and should dissipate on its own after a few days. You will be provided with detailed post-treatment instructions that can aid the healing process and help you obtain the smoothest recovery possible.
If you have questions about meniscal tears, please don’t hesitate to contact our practice today. One of our experienced doctors will be happy to meet with you to talk about your concerns and any treatment options that can meet your needs.