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The knee joint functions when a myriad of complex parts—such as ligaments, tendons and bone—work in conjunction with one another. Unfortunately, many of these complex parts are prone to injury.
One of the most commonly injured parts of the knee is the menisci, which are two wedge-shaped cartilage pieces that pad the inside and outside of the knee joint. These rubbery, durable cartilage sections allow the knee to absorb shock and stabilize the knee.
A meniscal tear is a common sports injury, often occurring when an athlete squats or twists the knee. It also can be caused by hard contact with another player. Aging is also a contributor to the breakdown of knee cartilage and tissue because older, worn tissue is more prone to tears.
You may have heard a popping sound when your injury first occurred. After that, pain and swelling or tenderness may set in. Other symptoms include an inability to move your knee normally, or an inability to walk without pain or a clicking, uncomfortable feeling. Symptoms are usually worse when a patient is going down stairs or squatting or bending the knee deeply. For some, an injured knee may occasionally get stuck, or lock, at a 45-degree angle temporarily.
Patients in the Bergen County, New Jersey, towns of Franklin Lakes, Glen Rock, Paramus, Westwood, Ridgewood and surrounding communities can rely on the experienced team of doctors at Kayal Orthopaedic Center, who specialize in sports medicine, to handle all of their orthopaedic concerns—from a meniscus tear to an ACL tear—and to develop the appropriate treatment plans.
In order to properly diagnose a meniscal tear, your doctor will consider your symptoms, ask you about your activity leading up to the injury, and examine your knee carefully. Because meniscus injuries can also be accompanied by injuries to the other soft tissue in the knee, your doctor will want to look at the big picture. In addition to examining your knee in specific positions and manipulating its movement, your doctor will likely want you to have X-rays, or a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
Small meniscus tears along the outside of the knee may heal on their own with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Over-the-counter or prescribed anti-inflammatory medications may also be used to alleviate discomfort and swelling. If symptoms persist or your meniscus tear is severe, minimally invasive knee surgery may be required. During this procedure, using small incisions, your knee surgeon, who also specializes in knee replacement surgery, will insert a camera and tiny surgical instruments into the knee joint to repair torn menisci. Fortunately, many minimally invasive knee procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, and rehabilitation is much faster than with traditional incisions, with full weight bearing immediately after surgery. In some situations you may be made non weight bearing with the use of crutches. Your orthopaedic surgeon at Kayal Orthopaedic Center in Bergen County may also prescribe physical therapy after surgery to accelerate your healing and help you regain strength and endurance.