Meniscus Tear in the Knee

What is a Meniscus Tear in the Knee?

The meniscus is a C-shaped fibro-cartilage pad that helps to cushion the knee from impacts. There are two menisci in each knee – a medial and a lateral one. They sit within the joint between the surfaces of the knee.

A tear in the meniscus can occur due to a traumatic injury, such as twisting the knee. Alternatively, degenerative tears can appear slowly over time, due to an erosion of the meniscus in everyday activity.

Meniscus Tear Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a meniscus tear in the knee may include:

  • A sudden, sharp pain in the knee – this could occur when the knee is twisted in the ‘wrong’ direction, or perhaps simply when it is overworked in exercising.
  • Swelling of the knee
  • Being unable to straighten the knee fully
  • A clicking or catching in the knee joint

Meniscus Tear Diagnosis

Mr Soong Chua will take a complete history and perform a physical examination that will evaluate movement and function of the knee. This will be undertaken with simple tests, such as observing the patient’s ability to walk, and monitoring the swelling in the area.

In order to gain more information, and confirm the severity level of the tear, MRI scans may be needed. These scans can be done by a radiologist at an X-ray clinic. Mr Soong Chua can then make a meniscus tear treatment plan, depending on the information that the scans provide.

Meniscus Tear Treatment Options

Immediately after pain begins in the area, the patient should rest, ice and elevate the knee.

Depending on the severity of the meniscus tear, and the individual’s specific case, treatment approaches will differ. Some cases can be treated non-surgically, with the aid of a physiotherapist.

More severe cases may require meniscus tear surgery. There are two types of surgery that can be performed to repair a torn meniscus – a partial meniscectomy (removal of damaged tissue) or meniscus repair (stitching torn pieces back together). Factors such as shape and size of tear, as well as general health of the patient, will influence whether Mr Soong Chua will perform a meniscus tear repair, or perform a partial meniscectomy.

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