Meniscus cartilage is the rubbery shock absorber that shields the joints namely thighbone and shinbone. Meniscal cartilage tears are formed when the meniscus cartilage down causing friction between the knee joints thus enabling their damage.
Two menisci can be seen in the knee. One medial meniscus, that is present in the medial tibial region and the other is lateral meniscus , that is present in the lateral tibial region. These two meniscus present between the cartilage surfaces of the joints distribute the body weight evenly across both the knee joints. Any failure in this , results in the ample pressure on some areas of the bone leading to damage or arthritis of the knee joint.
What can be the cause for meniscal cartilage tear ?
The main causes of a meniscal tear are traumatic injury and degenerative processes.Traumatic injury are commonly seen in athletes and active people who are engaged in different sportive activities, probably aged between 10-45. Since the meniscus degenerates with age, degenerative processes are the other cause for meniscus tear. This type of tear is seen often in older people. Activities leading to forceful twisting or rotating of the knee can also lead to meniscus tears.
What are the signs of meniscal cartilage tear?
The affected patients experience severe pain and swelling in the knee. The tear is charaterised by the symptom of knee locking or the inability of the knee to put it in a straight position. Movement of the knee is restricted due to the chronic pain or the swelling.If the injury is left untreated, the condition worsens and the patient feels like the ‘knee giving out”.A popping sound is heard or experienced at the time of the injury. Tenderness in the regions of meniscus are the other associated symptoms.
How to diagnose an meniscal cartilage tear?
To diagnose meniscal cartilage tear , a physician performs physical examination of the joints. The physician checks for the tenderness, pain, swelling and range of motion of the joints.As a part of physical examination of the knee joints,McMurray test is carried out by the surgeon. Further, imaging techniques such as X-rays or the MRI of the joints are taken. X-rays are used to rule out different problems associated with knee such as osteoarthritis. MRI not only detects the damages to the meniscus but it can also detect the damage to the surrounding other ligaments that are associated with the knee injury.
How to treat an meniscal cartilage tear?
Some of the treatment for an meniscal tear are the conservative methods such as the physical therapy, anti inflammatory medications, elevating the knee while sitting or sleeping and icing the affected knee. Exercises are the other methods considered to regain the motion and strengthen the muscles. But the conservative methods of treatments are benefited only to the patients who are less actively involved in sports or other weight bearing activities or activities such as running.
As far as the athletes are concerned, surgical treatments are available that may help them regain all their activities associated with sports. Arthroscopic surgery of the knee is one of the option, which helps in the recovery from meniscal tear. Microfracture surgery can be another option. Recovery from meniscal tear can take a period of one month.