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Meniscus Tear in New Jersey

A sudden and forceful twist to your knee may result in a meniscus tear, causing swelling, pain and stiffness. The physical therapists of Performance Rehabilitation, located in Totowa and Lafayette Township, offer meniscus tear treatments to the residents of New Jersey.

What is a Meniscus Tear?

A tear of the meniscus involves a cartilage tear of the menisci that is found between the tibia bones and femur in the lower leg. The menisci lend stability to the body and help distribute its weight by preventing friction between the bones. They also help distribute nutrients into cartilage and tissues covering the tibia bones and femur.

Healthy menisci tissues guard against degenerative arthritis. The menisci act as shock absorbers to reduce pressure upon the knee.

A torn meniscus is a very common type of knee injury. Any physical activity or motion that makes you rotate your knee or twist it forcefully, especially when it is bearing much of the weight of the body, can cause a torn meniscus.

Both knees have two menisci which are C-shaped cartilage pieces that sit between your thighbone and shinbone and act as cushions. A torn meniscus results in pain, stiffness, and swelling.

What Causes a Meniscus Tear?

A torn meniscus can occur during activities that cause a forceful knee twist, like sudden stops and turns and aggressive pivoting. A torn meniscus can also be caused by kneeling, lifting something heavy, or deep squatting. Degenerative conditions in older people can also lead to a torn meniscus.

Younger people are injured less frequently because their menisci are still quite strong and rubbery. As we age, this resilience fades and injuries occur more often, even due to basic motions like stepping on an uneven surface and squatting. They also occur due to degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, instead of one specific type of injury.

What are the Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear?

If your meniscus is torn, you may notice the following knee symptoms:

  • A popping and or catching sensation within the knee
  • Stiffness or swelling
  • Pain, particularly when rotating or twisting your knee
  • Difficulty fully straightening your knee
  • A sensation of your knee being frozen or locked into place

Who is at Risk for a Meniscus Tear?

Anyone who takes part in physical activities that involve pivoting of the knee or aggressive twisting may be at risk of having a torn meniscus. Athletes have a particularly high risk, especially ones who take part in contact sports, such as football or basketball. The odds of having a torn meniscus also increases as people age, due to wear and tear on the knees.

How do Doctors Diagnose a Meniscus Tear?

A torn meniscus can often be discovered during a physical examination. Your knee and leg bones can be manipulated into various positions to discover the cause of your symptoms.

Imaging tests can also be conducted, such as the following:

  • X-rays: A torn miniscus will not show up on x-rays because the miniscus consists of cartilage. However, x-rays are helpful in ruling out other knee problems that may mimic the symptoms of a torn miniscus.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound is helpful because it lets the doctor look at the knee when it is in motion. This is useful in determining if a loose cartilage flap is being caught in between part of the knee.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A strong magnetic field and radio waves are used to create cross-section images of the internal structures of the knee, creating very detailed images of soft and hard knee tissues.
  • Arthroscopy: Sometimes, the doctor may utilize a device called an arthroscope to look at the insides of your knees. This device is pushed through a tiny knee incision and contains a small camera and light. The camera will display images of the knee to your doctor.

Homecare for a Meniscus Tear

Meniscus tear treatment may involve monitoring and physical therapy to strengthen knee muscles and stabilize the knee. If conventional treatment fails, surgery may be necessary to remove or repair the damaged cartilage.

You should avoid any activity that increases your knee pain, particularly physical activities involving the twisting or pivoting of your knee. You should continue restricting such physical activity until the pain subsides. Over-the-counter pain relievers and ice compresses may also prove helpful in minimizing pain and swelling.

Treatment for a Torn Meniscus

Current evidence-based care suggests that for people over the age of 50, physical therapy is the treatment of choice for a torn meniscus versus an arthroscopy. The outcomes are better. In the younger and athletic population, physical therapy may be tried initially and if not successful, arthroscopy is performed to clear out the invading cartilage and allow for the patient to then rehabilitate and return to sport and/or active lifestyle.

If you have recently heard a popping sound from your knee during physical activity, you may have a meniscus tear. Contact us to schedule a consultation to find out how Performance Rehabilitation, located in Totowa & Lafayette Township in New Jersey, can help repair your meniscus tear.