What is a Meniscus Tear?
The meniscus is the piece of cartilage that cushions the knee joint. It’s shaped a little like a figure-8 lying down flat. The medial meniscus is the loop on your inseam, the side that faces your other knee. The lateral meniscus is the loop on the opposite side.
Like the ankle and hip, the knee is a joint that sees a lot of high-impact activity. It’s the meniscus that absorbs the shock of impact, and keeps your knee joint stable and lubricated. Usually, a tear is caused by a twist in the knee, but sometimes repeated squatting is enough. If a bit of the meniscus rips off and gets lodged in the joint, the knee joint could lock up.
Meniscus tears are common in athletes of both contact and non-contact sports, and are especially common in older athletes, as the tissue wears out with age. Older men and women are not only more likely to tear their meniscus; they are also more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee following an injury.
A tear in the meniscus can be mild to moderately painful, and can keep you sidelined from your favorite activities for months, or even years. Some tears require surgery, but many will resolve with non- or minimally-invasive treatments.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR MENISCUS TEARS INCLUDE:
Meniscus Tear Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of a torn meniscus include:
- Mild to moderate knee pain.
- Pain that grows worse with inflammation.
- The sound or sensation of popping at the moment of injury.
- Difficulty flexing and extending the knee.
- The joint sticks or locks up.
Types of Meniscus Tears: The “Red Zone” and the “White Zone”
Your blood vessels feed and provide oxygen to your tissues. They are also instrumental in transporting healing growth factors to sites of injury. The outer portion of your meniscus is easily accessible: it gets plenty of blood. If your tear is in this “Red Zone,” it might be able to heal on its own.
A problem arises when the tear is located in the inner, “White Zone.” This zone is tucked snugly inside the knee joint, choked out of the reach of life-giving blood cells. It’s very rare that a tear in this region will heal on its own. Fortunately, there are some techniques we can use to help these tears along.
Meniscus Tear Treatment
Some meniscus tears will heal with conservative, non-invasive treatments, such as:
- The RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation).
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
- Physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the knee.
- Activity reduction/modification.
But some meniscus tears won’t respond to conservative measures. At this point, many people mistakenly believe that surgery is the only option. But surgical meniscus repair isn’t always successful, and even when it is, there can be an increased risk for knee arthritis.
In recent years, the field of regenerative medicine has made marvelous advances in treating soft tissue injuries. At Nuvo Spine, we specialize in minimally-invasive techniques, using living tissue from your own body to jumpstart the healing process. These techniques include:
- Traumeel Injection
- Zeel Injection
- Cortisone Injection
- A2M (Alpha-2-Macroglobulin) Injection
- Platelet-rich plasma injections – platelets acquired from your own blood promotes and stimulates your body’s natural healing response.
- Stem cell therapy – stem cells drawn from your bone marrow help your body to repair damaged cells.
Call our office for your consultation today, and take the first step towards a pain-free life.