The meniscus is a very important structure. It distributes our weight evenly across the knee joint and without it; the weight would be uneven and will lead to arthritis of our knee joint. Injuries to the meniscus are especially common in young patients who are athletically active below the age of 25 years, especially those who are involved in high pivoting sports such as soccer and basketball.
Treatment for meniscal tears would depend on the type of tear, how big it is and where is it at. If the tear is located at the outer edge, a meniscus repair surgery will be carried out as there is a rich supply of blood which will heal on its own after surgery. However if the tear is located at the central portion to the inner portion, meniscus repair will not be performed as the area lacks blood supply and without blood, there are no nutrients. As a result, the tears will not heal and are usually trimmed away during surgery.
Taking into consideration factors such as age, activity level and type of tear, the doctor is able to advise on the most appropriate form of treatment.
Non Surgical Treatment
If the size of the tear is small and is at the outer side of the meniscus, repair surgery is not required. If the knee is still stable, non surgical treatment is the best option.
RICE is the easiest and most effective treatment for most injuries.
Rest. Stop whatever activities you are doing immediately especially the one that caused the injury. Crutches may be used to relieve weight on the injured leg.
Ice. Usage of ice packs for 20 minutes a time throughout the day will relieve swelling and pain.
Compression. An elastic compression sleeve is worn to prevent blood loss and to decrease the swelling.
Elevation. Keeping the injured leg above the heart level when at rest reduces swelling.
Non steroid anti inflammatory medicine.
The doctor will also prescribe anti inflammatory medication such as aspirin and ibuprofen to reduce pain as well as swelling.
If non surgical treatment fails, arthroscopic surgery is the only way out. Knee arthroscopy surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgery in the world and small incisions will be made on the knee to place a miniature camera in it to allow a clear view of the insides. Small surgical instruments will be placed in the other incisions and the tear is either trimmed or repaired depending on the type of tear and the severity.
Meniscal tears are common knee injuries. With the proper care and treatment given, patients will have little problem returning back to pre-injury capabilities.