Diagnosing and Treating a Torn Meniscus

A meniscus tear is a knee injury that is particularly common among athletes who play contact sports such as football. The menisci are sections of cartilage that are responsible for absorbing the shock between the shinbone and thighbone. Each of your knees has two menisci. Meniscus tears can be quite painful, but an orthopedic specialist can provide effective medical interventions for your recovery.

Medical History and Symptom Review

When you arrive at the clinic, the orthopedist will review your full medical history. This includes any pre-existing medical conditions you have and medications you take. Next, you’ll be asked to describe your symptoms in detail. You may have heard a “popping” noise at the time of the injury. Meniscus tears are also associated with pain, swelling, stiffness, and the sensation of the joint “giving way.”

Physical Examination

The orthopedist will carefully examine your knee and may ask you to move the leg in certain ways. The doctor will evaluate the range of motion in your joint. He or she might ask you to walk around if you can place weight on the affected leg.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests may be necessary to confirm the initial diagnosis of a meniscus tear. Your doctor may request a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Sometimes, X-rays may be requested to rule out other possible causes for your symptoms.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Your orthopedic doctor will develop a customized treatment plan based on the nature and location of the tear, and your activity level, age, and other injuries. Small tears on the outer edge of the cartilage are most often treated without surgery. Your doctor may ask you to get plenty of rest, apply ice packs, keep the leg elevated, and wear a compression bandage while the tear heals. You might also take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Surgical Interventions

If your symptoms persist or the tear is located on the inner part of the meniscus (which lacks a blood supply necessary to heal), your doctor may recommend trimming away the damaged tissue surgically . Sometimes, a tear may be surgically repaired by suturing the edges of the tear together.

Providing specialized care for knee injuries in Queens is just part of what we do here at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine. Our orthopedist treats musculoskeletal injuries and diseases of the shoulder, ankle, wrist, and other areas. New and current patients can reach our office at (718) 897-2228.

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