Let’s Point the Finger at Meniscus Tears

By ProOrtho on
- Posted in: News
Knee Pain & Meniscus Tears

Here at ProOrtho we simply like to keep our patients moving. But even our most athletic patients can experience wear and tear on their bodies, so today we’re pointing the finger at the often dreaded—but unfortunately not uncommon—meniscus tear.

That’s right, we see troublesome meniscus (that c-shaped pad of cartilage in the knee that acts as a shock absorber) tears quite often. So we decided to talk meniscus tear risk, recognition, repair and recovery, so you can get out there (or back out there) and enjoy your life the way you want to live it.

Let’s go!

The Risks

As we age, all our cartilage (including the meniscus) tends to weaken and become susceptible to tears. Thus meniscus tears are more common among individuals over (a mere) 30 years old!

But things get worse (sorry) for athletes and individuals who engage in high-impact activities like soccer, skiing, or basketball (to name a few). Other factors that increase risk of meniscus tears include:

  • Being overweight
  • Previous knee injuries
  • Poor biomechanics—abnormal gait or improper knee alignment can unevenly distribute forces in the knee, which in turn increases wear and tear susceptibility.

How to Spot a Tear

While a self-diagnosis does not supersede professional medical advice, we figure if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking you’re at risk or have a tear. Here’s what to look for (you won’t be shocked) to spot a meniscus tear:

Pain—especially when twisting or rotating the knee.

Swelling—fluid buildup in the knee joint can cause swelling, making the joint feel “puffy,” and definitely uncomfortable.

Locking or “Catching” Sensation—some folks experience this weird sensation where the knee locks or catches during movement, often accompanied by pain.

Limited Range of Motion—Difficulty fully straightening or bending the knee. Enough said.

Clicking or Popping—Audible sounds during movement might suggest your meniscus is amiss…although these noises could also be from other knee issues (we can help with those too).

Time to Bring In The ProOrtho Professionals

When you suspect a meniscus tear, it’s time to consult an orthopedic surgeon like we (humble) experts at ProOrtho. We’re trained to assess all the ins-and-outs of every imaginable musculoskeletal injury—including meniscus tears—and we’re really good at it. Here’s how our assessment would go:

Let’s Get Physical

We’ll assess range of motion, perform stability tests, and most importantly, listen to what you have to say about how your knee is feeling.

Testing 1,2,3

Imaging tests like MRIs and x-rays confirm (or deny) our diagnosis and allow us to determine the severity of the tear if it’s there.

Decision Time

The treatment approach depends on the type, location, and severity of the tear. Small tears near the outer edge of the knee may heal on their own, while larger or complex tears may require surgical intervention. Let’s find out more.

Meniscus Tear Repair and Rehabilitation

If the tear is small and stable, non-surgical approaches include rest, ice, compression, and elevation. But it’s not over yet: a follow-up with a physical therapist will strengthen and stabilize the muscles around the knee to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

For larger or complex tears, we’re looking at either repair (suturing the torn edges together) or meniscectomy (there are two flavors of that…partial or full removal of the torn meniscus).

A note on surgical repairs: The most commonly utilized surgical technique is a knee arthroscopy. In an arthroscopy a miniature camera is inserted through a tiny incision in the knee. This provides the surgeon with a full view of the knee without having to make a large incision. This type of surgery is considered minimally invasive and comes with less scarring, less risk of infection, and less recovery time. All right!

Following the norm after any surgery, your ProOrtho specialist will then put your knee in a brace or cast to stabilize the joint. You may even be put on crutches to keep weight off your knee for the first week.

Once the initial surgical wounds have healed, we’ll set you up with physical therapy so you can begin a series of rehabilitation exercises to restore mobility and strength to your knee. Let’s cover that next

The Right Rehabilitation

Range of motion exercises will be the primary focus and as the knee gets stronger. These gentle movements help regain flexibility and restore the knee’s normal movement.

Next come strengthening exercises targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. This work is all about providing the knee adequate stability and support. Balance and proprioception exercises will then be incorporated to bolster your defenses against re-injury.

Finally, it’s cardio time! Low-impact activities like stationary cycling or swimming promote cardiovascular health without putting excessive stress on the healing knee. As you progress, functional exercises that mimic real-life situations might be included to prepare your knee for the everyday demands of your favorite activities.

Don’t Worry, We’ve Got Your Back

While a meniscus tear probably sounds like a challenging setback, never fear: you’re now armed with the knowledge to mitigate your risk so you can keep doing the physical activities you love.

And if you think you’ve suffered a meniscus tear, or you simply want to learn more, we can help. Reach out today and we’ll be happy to discuss how our orthopedic services can get you on your feet. Remember, our goal is to get you back out there so you can live the life you want to live, pain and worry-free.


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