If you ever had any sort of injury, especially a knee injury, you probably appreciate how your knees power you through various sports and activities: kicking, jumping, running, and pivoting. To avoid knee injuries, it helps to understand how your knees work and what you can do to protect them. The first thing to understand about knee health is that the knee is a stable joint that functions and exists directly between two very mobile joints, the hip and the ankle. If the hip or ankle is injured, mobility of the knee becomes limited.
The knees are the largest joints in the body, designed to provide stability and allow your legs to bend, swivel, and straighten. The knee is made up of bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, all working as one. What makes knee injuries complicated is that they could be caused by stress or damage to any of these parts. The knee sits in the middle of three bones: the tibia (your shinbone), the femur (your thighbone), and the patella (the kneecap). The patella is a flat and round bone that protects the knee joint.
What is a meniscus tear?
A meniscus tear is a common knee injury. The meniscus is a rubbery, C-shaped disc that cushions your knee. Each knee has two menisci, one at the outer edge of the knee and one at the inner edge. The meniscus helps keep your knee steady by balancing your weight across the knee. A torn meniscus is not only very painful, but drastically limits balance and mobility.
What causes a meniscus tear?
A meniscal tear is usually caused by hyperextending the knee or often twisting or turning too quickly, with the foot planted while the knee is bent. Meniscus tears can also occur when you lift something heavy or play sports. As you get older, your meniscus gets worn down and may become more susceptible to tearing.
- A popping feeling can occur at the time of injury
- Joint pain – If you have injured your meniscus, you may also experience pain at areas between your bones when gentle pressure is applied.
- A locking sensation can occur at the knee joint
- Recurrent knee-catching
- Icing can help reduce knee swelling and reduce pain after a meniscal tear. In addition, it is important to stay away from any activity that inflames your pain.
- A well-designed knee support can also help patients who have suffered an injury, such as a meniscal tear. Movement will be restricted, and the support a brace can provide can reduce your knee pain. If you’re an active person, you can use knee braces. A well-designed brace can be a very useful adjunct to the health of your knee, giving proper support and preventing further injury.
- A good physician will tell you that they use surgery as a last resort, and less invasive conservative measures should be considered first.
- A meniscus repair can be performed to help treat your meniscus. Your doctor will determine the severity of the injury to see if the meniscus can be surgically repaired. In some cases, depending on the injury, or the age, health or activity level of the patient, a meniscectomy may be needed. This removes part or all of the damaged meniscus.
If you’re suffering with pain from a knee injury and need a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, call Dr. Bill Hefley at (800) 336-2412 to request an appointment.