Dr. Carlos Rebollón
Diagnosis and Treatments
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Meniscus injuries can result from various causes and can cause painful symptoms and difficulty in performing daily activities. If you are experiencing this type of injury or simply want to learn more about this condition, don’t miss the following content.
WHAT IS THE KNEE MENISCUS?
The knee meniscus is a cartilage structure that acts as a cushion between the bones of the knee, helping to maintain joint stability. Meniscus injuries are common, especially in sports that involve twisting and sudden movements such as basketball or soccer.
MOST COMMON TYPES OF MENISCUS INJURIES
The causes of meniscus injuries can be traumatic, degenerative, or mechanical. Traumatic injuries result from direct or indirect impact, degenerative injuries come from progressive deterioration over the years, while mechanical injuries are primarily due to joint dysfunction caused by meniscus abnormalities, hyperextension, among others.
Medial meniscus injury
Medial meniscus injuries are more common than lateral meniscus injuries. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty in moving the knee.
LATERAL MENISCUS INJURY
This type of injury affects the meniscus located on the outer edge of the joint. Symptoms range from mild discomfort to severe pain and limitation in walking, extending, or flexing the knee.
HOW ARE MENISCUS INJURIES DIAGNOSED?
The diagnosis of a meniscus injury is made through a medical evaluation, where symptoms and the patient’s medical history are assessed, including questions about how the injury occurred and when the pain or discomfort started.
The specialist will also perform a physical examination of the knee, evaluating range of motion, stability, and weight-bearing, palpating the knee to detect bumps or swelling.
Imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and/or computed tomography (CT) scans are always necessary to obtain a detailed image of the knee and accurately determine the meniscus injury while ruling out any other ligament problems.
If a meniscus injury is suspected and the results of other tests are inconclusive, the doctor may recommend an arthroscopy to directly visualize the inside of the knee using a small tube with a camera that is inserted through a small incision.
TREATMENTS FOR MENISCUS INJURIES
The treatment for meniscus injuries depends on the type and severity of the injury. Treatment is usually primarily conservative, with options such as pain medication and physical therapy for milder injuries. On the other hand, more severe injuries may require surgery.
SURGERY FOR MENISCUS INJURIES
Meniscus injuries can be treated surgically in two ways: The first is the removal of the injury (meniscectomy), in this technically simpler procedure, the torn fragment is trimmed and removed, reducing the size of the meniscus (this allows for an earlier return to activities). The second surgical technique is meniscal repair, where the injured meniscus is sutured to the joint capsule, potentially stabilizing the knee until the wound heals.
RECOVERY TIME AFTER MENISCUS SURGERY
Recovery time after meniscus surgery can vary depending on the type of injury and the surgery performed. Generally, after meniscus surgery, it is recommended to use crutches and avoid weight-bearing on the affected leg during the first few weeks. Physical therapy exercises are also advised to strengthen the knee and improve mobility.
The recovery time after meniscus repair surgery can range from 3 to 6 months, while recovery after partial meniscectomy surgery can be 2 to 4 weeks. However, it is important to note that the recovery time can vary depending on the type of surgery, patient age, and other factors.
Throughout this process, it is essential to follow the instructions of the doctor and physical therapist to ensure a successful recovery and prevent complications.