Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear

When your knee hurts, life can be pretty miserable. Although many knee injuries get better on their own, more severe issues require intervention. One of these conditions is a meniscus tear in your knee. This injury can put you on the sidelines for some time and cause a lot of knee pain in the process.

At Commonwealth Musculoskeletal Medicine, we can help you determine what's causing your knee pain. Our skilled team includes Dr. Mark Conliffe who specializes in neuromusculoskeletal medicine can help you navigate the painful diagnosis of a meniscal tear.

Understanding your meniscus

Like just about every other part of your body, your knee joint is made up of a few different parts. There's bone, ligaments and cartilage that are all important to the proper functioning of your knee. One of these parts is called your meniscus. There are two menisci in each of your knees; one on the medial side and one on the lateral side.

Your menisci are shaped like a half moon and provide support and cushioning between your thigh bone and your shin bone. It also cuts down on friction inside of your joint, helping to prevent wear-and-tear conditions such as osteoarthritis. However, if the meniscus becomes injured, it can lead to more issues than just pain.

You need your meniscus to protect your knee during daily activities such as running, walking, or squatting. Your meniscus can be injured because of a traumatic injury. Movements like sudden twisting or over flexing of your knee are enough to cause your meniscus to tear. This occurs a lot in sports like football and basketball.

Symptoms of a tear

Knowing what signs to look out for can save you from more damage because of an untreated meniscus tear. With this kind of injury, you’ll definitely know something is wrong almost instantly. There are symptoms that let can clue you in that you have a meniscus tear, including:

You may also have trouble with your knee locking in a certain position. Due to the meniscus tearing, it causes your joint to get stuck and feel incredibly stiff. You’ll most likely also have trouble straightening your knee fully.

The pain in your knee may initially just be a nuisance, but once you begin to experience the inflammation associated with a meniscus tear, the pain will likely get quite a bit worse. You may experience all of these symptoms or just a few. Either way, if you feel like you’ve injured your meniscus, it’s a good idea to contact our office to set up an appointment to get evaluated.

Treatment can help

Meniscal tears can heal on their own, but only in certain cases. There’s an area on the outer part of your meniscus known as the red zone. This part of your meniscus receives a good blood supply, meaning it’s able to heal from a small tear on its own. 

However, if your tear is on the inner part of your meniscus, there isn’t a good blood supply, so it will not likely heal on its own. In this case, you’ll need some kind of treatment to regain proper use of your affected knee. Conservative treatments that Dr. Conliffe may suggest include:

He may also suggest the use of a knee brace while your joint is on the mend, to give you stability. Another treatment that we offer that can really help is physical therapy. Physical therapy and strength exercises help to strengthen your muscles around the injured joint. This promotes flexibility and decreases the risk of a secondary injury. It also helps you to regain function of your knee after an injury,

In severe cases with large meniscal tears, you may need surgery to remove the damaged cartilage. This is usually the last resort if all of the conservative measures don’t work or if you’re having symptoms that are affecting your daily living.

If you have injured your knee and think you might have a meniscus tear, call our office at 502-771-1012, or book an appointment online today.

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