A common type of knee injury may happen to the menisci. Menisci are two crescent-shaped pads of cartilage found within each knee joint. Meniscal injuries can be rather painful and can make it harder to move your knee.
The menisci help to stabilize the knee and make it easier to move the knee joint. It’s also important when it comes to absorbing shock from weight-bearing activities.
When you suffer a meniscal injury, you want to make sure you get the right Orthopedic Sports medicine Surgeon in Atlanta. Dr. John Andrachuk has extensive experience treating meniscal injuries and other sports injuries.
What are Meniscal Injuries?
Meniscal injuries happen when there is a tear to one of the menisci in your kneed. This is a rather common injury with several different causes.
Common Types of Meniscal Injuries
There are several types of meniscal injuries that you might suffer. The most common types include:
- Radial – This type of meniscal injury will run perpendicular to the top of the shinbone and the long axis of the meniscus.
- Cleavage or horizontal – This type of meniscal tear will run parallel to the flat top of the shinbone. They tend to occur more often due to degeneration in the knee joint in those over the age of 40.
- Displace – If a total detachment of a piece of meniscus happens, it’s known as a displaced meniscal injury.
- Vertical or longitudinal – If you suffer this type of tear, it will run perpendicular to the flat top of the shinbone and parallel to the long axis of the meniscus.
- Flap – A partially detached fragment of the horizontal tear fits into this category.
- Complex – Any combination of longitudinal and cleavage tears is known as a complex meniscal injury.
- Parrot-beak – This type of radial tear will have a partially detached fragment.
- Bucket-handle – This type of meniscal injury includes fragments of complete longitudinal tears.
It’s also common for doctors to categorize meniscal injuries based on the location of the tear. The outer one-third of the meniscus may be referred to as the red zone due to the blood supply. If a tear happens here, it is more likely to heal on its own.
The inner two-thirds of the meniscus doesn’t have as much blood supply, so doctors tend to call this the white zone. These two zones are used to label two types of meniscal injuries based on location including:
- Red-red tears – These are tears in the red zone.
- Red-white tears – These tears are central and extend into the white zone
What Cause Meniscal Injuries?
This common knee injury may be caused by hyper-flexing or twisting the joint. Meniscal injuries may also happen due to the normal degenerative process from aging. You might also suffer this type of injury along with an ACL injury.
Athletes commonly suffer meniscal injuries. These types of injuries can happen when lifting weight, playing sports, or when you turn or twist suddenly.
If you’re male, over 40 years of age, and you play sports, such as soccer or you go skiing, you are at a higher risk of a meniscal injury. This type of injury can also be caused by working a job where you have to bend or squat often.
Symptoms of Meniscal Injuries
Meniscal injuries tend to come with a variety of symptoms, based on the location and the severity. Common symptoms of meniscal injuries include:
- Pain that may come and go over time
- Stiffness and swelling of the knee joint
- Catching of the knee
- Locking of the knee
- Unable to straighten the knee
- Inability to fully bend the knee
- A sensation of the knee giving away
These symptoms will likely be present with any meniscal injury.
Diagnosing Meniscal Injuries
Your doctor will likely evaluate your medical history and do a physical exam. This may include testing your range of motion and checking for signs of a meniscal injury.
Along with a physical exam, it is common for doctors to use X-ray and MRI scans to diagnose a meniscal injury. An X-ray can help to rule out any other issues, such as bone problems or arthritis.
Meniscal Injuries Treatment
Treatment for meniscal injuries starts with RICE therapy. This includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Some meniscal injuries can heal with just RICE therapy.
Physical therapy is another common treatment option. This will include strengthening exercises for the knee. You may also need nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, or even biologic injections to help with healing and pain relief.
If you have a more extensive meniscal injury, treatment may require surgery. Two main types of arthroscopic surgery are used for meniscal injuries. These are known as a partial meniscectomy and meniscus repair.
With a partial meniscectomy, your surgeon will trim the damaged meniscus. This type of surgery allows for immediate weight bearing after surgery. It can also allow for a full range of motion to return sooner.
Meniscus repair surgery will involve your surgeon stitching torn pieces of the meniscus back together. Once the healing has occurred, your doctor will give you a rehabilitation program with physical therapy. This type of surgery comes with a longer recovery time.
Meniscal Injuries Recovery Time
If you’re meniscal injury doesn’t require surgery, you will likely need six to eight weeks to heal fully. However, if you must undergo surgery, you can expect a longer recovery time. With partial meniscectomy, you will have a faster recovery time than a meniscus repair surgery.
Partial meniscectomy surgery allows you to place some weight on the leg quickly. You will likely use a walking aid quickly and recovery will not last as long compared to a meniscus repair surgery.
With a meniscus repair, you will likely have to keep your knee straight with minimal or no weight on the foot for up to six weeks. Expect to spend six to eight weeks in a rehabilitation program after this type of surgery, as well.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
Dr. Andrachuk provides extensive experience in treating meniscal injuries. If you have suffered a knee injury during athletic activity or you are experiencing knee pain, it’s time to seek medical help. Dr. Andrachuk offers conservative treatments, along with the best astroscopic and minimally invasive techniques available to get you back on the field as soon as possible. Contact us today and schedule your in-person or telemedicine appointment!