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Knee Injury? 6 Signs It Could Be a Meniscus Tear

Woman suffers a meniscus injury while playing tennis

Whether you enjoy hiking, running, skiing, or other outdoor activities, the repetitive stress and sudden movements of these sports can put a lot of strain on your knees and increase the risk of injury one of those being a meniscus tear.

What Is a Meniscus Tear?

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that has a distinctive "C" shape and cushions the knee joint, providing stability and preventing friction between the bones.

An acute meniscus tear occurs when this cartilage is damaged or torn due to a forceful twist of the knee. This type of tear is common in sports like skiing, tennis, volleyball, soccer, and football, but any athlete is susceptible to a torn meniscus.

A degenerative tear occurs due to wear and tear as we age. The cartilage becomes weaker, and even a minor twist, such as when golfing, can result in a tear.

Types of Meniscus Tears

There are six different types of meniscus tears

There are six different types of meniscus tears:

  • Incomplete Tears

  • Horizontal Tears

  • Radial Tears

  • Flap Tears

  • Bucket-Handle Tears

  • Complex Tears

Meniscus tears are further categorized as Grades 1, 2, or 3 (mild, moderate, or severe) and by their location (front, back, outside, or center of the meniscus). All of these factors affect the symptoms you may experience and the treatment plan.

Meniscus Tear Symptoms

Sudden knee pain is a common symptom of a meniscus tear

The symptoms of a meniscus tear can vary depending on the pattern, location, and severity. Below are six of the most common signs of a torn meniscus:

  1. Mild to severe knee pain (may be worse when trying to squat or twist)

  2. Feeling or hearing a pop

  3. Swelling (immediately or develops over a few days)

  4. Stiffness that makes it difficult to bend or fully straighten your knee

  5. Feeling like the knee is unstable and may give out

  6. A locking or catching of the knee joint

Treatment for Meniscus Tears

See an orthopaedic knee specialist like Dr. Joseph for a meniscus tear

If you're experiencing symptoms of a meniscus tear, it's important to consult with an orthopaedic knee specialist to properly diagnose and determine the best course of action for your individual situation.

For over 17 years, the active residents of Eagle and Summit counties have relied on Dr. Joseph of Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery to help them get back to their favorite mountain activities.

Dr. Joseph will recommend a treatment plan based on the type and extent of the tear, your age, overall health, and level of physical activity. In some cases, a mild meniscus tear can be managed with conservative treatments, including:

  • Rest and activity modification

  • Ice to reduce swelling and pain

  • Over-the-counter, non-steroidal drugs

  • Physical therapy to improve strength and stability

  • Steroid injections

In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or remove the damaged portion of the meniscus. Dr. Joseph may recommend surgical intervention when:

  • Conservative methods have failed to provide adequate relief

  • The stability and function of your knee are impacted

  • You want to return to an active lifestyle

  • There are additional injuries

Meniscus Tear Treatment in Vail and Frisco

If you are suffering from knee pain, whether from a recent injury or over time, contact Dr. Joseph at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery today for expert meniscus treatment.

Known for providing top-notch care with a compassionate approach, Dr. Joseph and his team will quickly and accurately diagnose your knee injury and work with you to create a treatment plan that gets you back to your favorite activities.

Call (970) 476-7220 today to make an appointment or submit a request using their online form.

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