A torn meniscus causes acute pain, swelling and stiffness in the knee, and an inability to support your weight on that leg. Left untreated, a torn meniscus can lead to long-term joint instability and osteoarthritis in the knee joint.
At Strasburger Orthopaedics – Syracuse Area Health, Dr. Scott Strasburger provides a range of treatments for patients with a torn meniscus, helping get you back on your feet and restore your range of motion.
Causes of a Torn Meniscus
Your knee joint has two “C-shaped” pieces of cartilage on either side of and slightly below the kneecap. These pieces of cartilage separate the shinbone and thighbone, preventing them from grating together. If you are playing a sport or doing anything else that causes you to land on one leg at speed and with pressure while rotating the knee joint, you can tear a meniscus. Football, basketball, soccer and tennis players are at high risk of a torn meniscus, as are people who suffer from obesity and have extra weight on their knees.
Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus
When a meniscus tears, you might hear an audible pop and feel immediate and severe pain. Symptoms that continue after the initial injury include:
- Your knee joint can feel incapable of bearing your weight and feel like it can give way at any moment if you try to walk or stand.
- Knee pain may subside to a degree but be chronic and worsen at night, with flares anytime you try to put weight on your knee.
- Your joint can become immobile, refusing to straighten fully or “locking” in a straight position and refusing to bend again.
Treatment for a Torn Meniscus
Some patients can recover from a torn meniscus with the standard conservative treatment of rest, icing, and pain medication. Others may need physical therapy to rehabilitate the joint. However, many cases of torn meniscus require surgery. Dr. Strasburger performs meniscus repair arthroscopically, using very small incisions and tools to operate with the help of a tiny camera inserted into the knee joint.
Recovery from a Torn Meniscus
Recovery from a torn meniscus usually involves strengthening exercises and conditioning to help restore range of motion and allow the leg to bear weight again. Return to sports is completely possible but expect a four- to five-month recovery if you have surgery on the knee to repair your meniscus.If you’ve suffered a serious knee injury resulting in popping or locking of the knee and instability, you could have a torn meniscus. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Strasburger, contact any of our three locations (in Syracuse, Lincoln, and Nebraska City, NE.)