What Are the Common Signs of a Meniscus Tear?
Meniscus tear symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Some warning signs that may suggest a meniscus tear include:
- Knee pain, especially if you try to twist or rotate your knee.
- Swelling and stiffness in the knee.
- Difficulty straightening your leg fully.
- Instability or wobbliness in the knee.
You may have felt or even heard a “popping” sensation at the time of the injury as well.
What Should I Do If I Suspect a Meniscus Tear?
We strongly recommend you call our office if you sustain an injury to your knee that results in pain, stiffness, swelling, or inability to straighten or move the knee normally without discomfort.
Mild meniscus tears can sometimes be treated at home with rest. However, meniscus tears that do not receive proper treatment can easily worsen, increasing your risk of developing longer-term problems such as arthritis and chronic knee instability.
Treatment for Meniscus Tears
The best treatment protocol for a meniscus tear depends on many factors—including the location and severity of the tear, your health status, your activity goals, and more. Dr. Scott Fujii will conduct a thorough physical examination, including any diagnostic testing that may be necessary, in order to fully assess the situation and make treatment recommendations.
As with many other injuries, our goal is to treat your meniscus tear conservatively, if possible. If the tear is restricted to the outer portions of the meniscus, there’s a great chance that the tear will eventually heal on its own, provided you follow our treatment plan carefully. Tears that reach further into the center of the meniscus, where blood supply is not as robust, often require a surgical repair.
Conservative treatments may include:
- Avoiding activities that could further aggravate the tear. You will likely have to avoid impact exercises for a while. We may also provide you with crutches to help offload weight and pressure acting on the knee.
- Compressing/bracing the knee. This helps protect the knee and may reduce swelling.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises. It’s important to perform these steps carefully and slowly to avoid re-aggravating the injury. Follow your rehab plan closely.
- Pain management. Taking over-the-counter NSAIDs can often help with temporary pain. Cortisone injections, while useful for many other kinds of soft tissue injuries, typically do not help with meniscus tears.
If your meniscus is more severely damaged, arthroscopic surgery will likely be recommended to repair the torn meniscus (if possible), or trim away the damaged portion so it isn’t causing pain anymore. If there is already severe arthritis in the joint, a full knee replacement may be recommended instead.
Dr. Fujii will be sure to go over all your surgical and non-surgical options with you and answer any questions you have about any procedures he may recommend.