What’s Causing My Knee Pain?
There are many causes of knee pain, including meniscus tear, torn ligament, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, and dislocation. Meniscus tear is very common, especially in athletes, older adults, and people with arthritis. Early recognition of the tear is necessary for proper treatment and to avoid future complications.
An overview of meniscus tears
The meniscus is a cartilage that is located inside the knee. The purpose of a meniscus is to protect the bones and knee joint. When the meniscus tears, a person will experience knee pain ranging from mild to severe. The moment a person injures the knee, a popping sensation is felt. Knee stiffness, swelling, and difficulty bending the leg are other common meniscus tear symptoms. If any of these symptoms are experienced, contact a healthcare provider for proper assessment and treatment.
Solutions to treat a tear
The appropriate treatment for meniscus tears depends on the severity of the symptoms experienced. Initial home treatments include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and the RICE protocol, which involves rest, ice application, compression, and elevating the limb. In some cases, physical therapy (PT) may be recommended. Avoid putting stress on the affected knee and rest as much as possible.
Moving forward with surgery
If a person has failed non-surgical treatments or experiences a severe meniscus tear, surgery may be recommended for the best chance of a full recovery. After surgery, the healthcare specialist will likely recommend several PT sessions to improve the knee’s strength and movements. The doctor may provide a knee brace or crutches for support during recovery. Take precautions while walking or doing any other activity. Proper footwear and a slow return to exercise will also be advised.
After surgical management of a torn meniscus, some patients may be at risk of developing arthritis later in life. Another possible complication is developing a torn ligament, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) if a torn meniscus does not fully recover. Speak to the healthcare provider to learn how to take the proper precautions to prevent such complications.
Life with a new knee
Meniscus tears are managed with conservative or surgical treatments. Most patients lead a normal life after recovery and can resume daily activities. However, the speed of recovery differs from person to person. With surgical treatment, healing may take longer. A torn meniscus is never fun, but proper treatment can help people get back to an active life quickly and safely.