The meniscus is rubbery cartilage that exists between some joints of the body, like the knee. A tear in the meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries. It is very common among athletes who play sports that require momentum, sudden stops, jumping and rapidly changing direction. These sports include football, soccer, lacrosse, tennis and basketball.
The Medial Meniscus
In each knee, there are 2 menisci. They are shaped like a C and are the cartilage in the knee joint that acts as a cushion between the tibia and the femur. The outside edge is the solid portion of the C with the opening directed towards the center of the knee.
Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear
Damage to the meniscus can result in a popping sensation, swelling in the knee and stiffness in the leg. You may be unable to bend the knee and may also experience pain when you try to move the knee.
Types of Meniscus Tears
There is a variety of meniscus tears. Their classifications are based on the direction and orientation of the tears. Here are the different types of meniscus tears you can get.
- Vertical Refers to a complete vertical tear. It is also called a “bucket handle” tear as the frayed meniscus may twist inside the joint resembling a twisted rope you use to lift a bucket.
- Vertical longitudinal This type of tear occurs between collagen fibers and can be asymptomatic (no symptoms).
- Vertical radial Vertical radial tears happen in the avascular part of the meniscus which doesn’t have access to a blood supply. This means it cannot heal once it is injured and surgery is typically required to fix the damage.
- Horizontal These tears split the meniscus into 2 layers and can be asymptomatic. Surgery is typically performed to sew both layers together.
- Oblique Oblique tears are mechanically unstable as the torn flap often gets caught in the mechanism of the knee. Surgery is required to prevent the frayed flap of the meniscus from getting caught when the knee is flexed.
- Complex Complex tears refer to when 2 or more tear patterns happen. Complex tears are far more common in elderly patients who have osteoarthritis in the knees.
So, what should you do if you think you may have a meniscus tear? If you have an accident that affects your ability to walk or you feel pain when placing weight on your knee, it is time to see a doctor. Your doctor will give you a thorough examination including imaging tests to determine the cause of the pain. If you have a meniscus tear, your doctor will determine what time of meniscus tear it is, how severe the case is, and prescribe a treatment plan.
Meniscus Tear Treatment in San Antonio, TX
The experts at Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine have a wealth of experience treating all types of orthopedic injuries like meniscus tears. If you are searching for a quality orthopedic team to help you with your orthopedic care needs, consider the board-certified physicians at Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. You can call us at (210) 692-7400 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.