The meniscus has the important job of cushioning and stabilizing the knee joint. Anytime it’s injured, symptoms are usually severe enough to warrant a trip to an Orthopedic Surgeon. If you’ve injured your knee and are experiencing any, or any combination, of the below-mentioned symptoms, you might have a meniscus injury that needs to be evaluated and treated by the orthopedic experts at Mahwah Valley Orthopedic Associates in Mahwah and Clifton, NJ.
Illustration 1- An example of a common meniscus injury
Symptom #1: Locking and/or popping
A torn meniscus disturbs the integrity of the knee joint. As the knee flexes and extends, the bones may hit or catch the piece of torn meniscus, resulting in an aggravating, irritating, and sometimes painful locking and/or popping or catching sensation. Patients who experience this symptom are very aware of it, as it limits their ability to perform physical activities.
Symptom #2: Decreased Range of Motion
The femur and tibia rest perfectly on top of one another to form the knee joint. When healthy, the joint moves smoothly while flexing and extending the knee. Should a significant meniscus injury occur, the integrity and alignment of the joint will be affected and range of motion will decrease. This symptom is especially problematic for athletes.
Symptom #3: Stiffness
Patients who sustain meniscus injuries may experience a great deal of stiffness. It’s not uncommon to see patients walk with their leg completely straight to avoid the locking and/or popping discussed above.
Symptom #4 Swelling
As with all soft tissue injuries, swelling can occur immediately following a meniscus injury. After a few days, swelling should go down. However, if the injury isn’t treated properly, swelling may continue and limit knee mobility.
Symptom #5 Pain
Pain is usually associated with a meniscus injury. The type and severity of the pain, depend on the extent of the injury and the pain tolerance of the patient. In most cases, pain ceases after rest and activity modification and recurs with weight bearing and activity.
Treating Meniscus Injuries
Ideally, meniscus injuries can be treated using conservative, non-surgical options, such as:
- Rest and activity modification
- Physical therapy
Some meniscal tears are severe enough to require surgery. The goal of surgery is to repair or remove the smallest piece of torn meniscus to restore the joint and range of motion while still preserving the shock absorbing qualities of the intact meniscus.
Seeking Treatment for Meniscus Injuries
If you’ve injured your knee and are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, an appointment with an Orthopedic Surgeon should be made. Once your knee has been examined, an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan can be made. When in the right hands, you can expect a relatively uneventful recovery.
Dr. Nicholas Alexander is the Founder of Mahwah Valley Orthopedics and a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of hip and knee conditions. Dr. Alexander completed his Fellowship in Adult Reconstruction and Reconstructive Surgery of the Hip and Knee at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He also serves as the Chairman of the Valley Hospital Total Joint Center. Dr. Alexander has offices in Mahwah and Clifton, NJ. If you, or someone you love, is considering treatment for a meniscus tear, contact us today for a consultation.