What is a Knee Meniscal Injury?
The menisci (singular: meniscus) are two C-shaped fibro-cartilaginous structures located in the inside your knee that acts as a cushion inside the knee joint.
Meniscal tears may occur during a trauma or fall and can occur if there is a sudden twisting or rotational force on the knee during sports such as soccer, basketball, or rugby. In older patients, meniscal degenerative tears can occur associated with knee osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of a meniscal tear depend on the size and location of the tear and whether other knee injuries occurred along with it. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, locking, clicking, catching, or giving way of the knee.
What Can you Do?
Stop play or competition. Apply RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) immediately to the knee to decrease pain and swelling.
When to Seek Immediate Medical Attention
It is important to seek medical attention if you have severe knee pain associated with inability to put weight on the affected leg, or onset of numbness or weakness of the lower leg.
How can we Help You?
Diagnosis begins with a thorough history of the mechanism of injury as well as the presenting symptoms, followed by a careful physical examination. The physician may order imaging studies to confirm and determine the extent of the injury, especially if other injuries in addition to the meniscal tear are suspected. X-rays may be ordered if there is concern for bony injury. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help to show the meniscus.
Initial treatment for a meniscal injury focuses on decreasing pain and swelling in the knee. Rest and pain medications can help to decrease these symptoms. You may be referred for physiotherapy to decrease pain, restore normal range of motion, balance and control of the lower limb and to gradually strengthen muscles around the knee.
A brace may also be prescribed to protect the injured knee and for extra stability during walking. Crutches may be used temporarily if it is painful to put weight on the affected leg. The physiotherapist will work with you to return you to your daily activities and sports activities safely.
Surgery for Meniscal Injuries
You may be referred to see an orthopaedic surgeon if you have persistent severe symptoms or if there is concern that a torn part of meniscus may not heal on its own. If symptoms persist despite the initial period of rehabilitation, surgery will probably be suggested to either remove or repair the torn portion of the meniscus. Surgical treatment is individualised and the patient makes an informed decision after consultation with a sports orthopaedic surgeon.