Dr. Carlos Rebollón

Treatment for
Meniscus tear

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Meniscus tear

Meniscus tear

A meniscus tear causes a range of symptoms in patients, which often can limit their lifestyle. However, with proper care and treatment, it’s possible to resolve the problem in a short period of time.

A meniscus tear is a very common type of knee injury because any joint movement that involves twisting and rotating with considerable force can lead to mild, moderate, or severe damage in this cartilaginous area.

Although meniscus tears can occur due to various factors and at any age, men tend to be the most affected by this problem.

How to Heal a Meniscus Tear?

In most cases, a meniscus injury can be satisfactorily resolved by applying conservative treatment methods such as the R.I.C.E method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).

Medications are also important at this point as they will help alleviate pain and inflammation during the initial days, giving the meniscus a chance to heal on its own.

Although a significant portion of cases can be resolved with rest, ice packs, anti-inflammatories, and pain relievers, there can also be more complex cases or degenerative tears that require meniscus surgery for complete recovery.

Conservative Treatment for Meniscus Tear

Tratamiento Quirurgico Para Rotura De Menisco

The diagnosis of a torn meniscus can be confirmed through a physical examination, where the specialist will position both the knee and leg in different ways to identify the cause of discomfort. Additionally, your orthopedist may use imaging tests (such as MRI or X-rays) to pinpoint the exact location of the meniscus injury and rule out any ligament damage.

Treatment typically starts moderately, addressing the meniscus injury according to its characteristics (type, size, and location). Symptoms of the condition gradually improve over time with medical recommendations, so surgery is rarely required in very few cases.

The first step in the recovery process is rest, avoiding any activity that may worsen the pain. Applying ice for at least 15 minutes every 4 to 6 hours is very useful in reducing inflammation and relieving joint pain.

Additionally, the treating physician may prescribe medications to alleviate the typical discomfort associated with a meniscus tear.

Surgical Treatment for Meniscus Tear

If you continue to experience knee discomfort (locking, stiffness, weakness, pain, etc.) after following conventional and therapeutic treatment guidelines, you will most likely need a simple surgery to repair the meniscus tear.

In Panama and other countries, meniscus surgery is performed through arthroscopy, making small incisions around the knee to access the inner cavity and suture the torn meniscus using special surgical techniques.

After surgery, the patient will need to follow a rehabilitation exercise plan to regain knee stability, mobility, and strength.

Physiotherapy Treatment for Meniscus Tear

Physiotherapy has shown multiple benefits in the early treatment of meniscus tears, strengthening the joint area, aiding in the recovery of movement, relieving pain, and preventing future chronic conditions.

The techniques used in physiotherapy are highly varied, so the physiotherapist will design a plan and apply the most suitable ones for each individual patient. These techniques can range from drainage massages to electrostimulation therapies, all with the common goal of strengthening the joint and restoring regular mobility of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in a short period of time.

Tratamiento Fisioterapeutico Para Rotura De Menisco

What Is a Meniscus Tear?

A meniscus tear is a tearing injury that occurs when inappropriate twisting or rotation is exerted on the knee, especially when the body’s weight is directly on the joint.

Each knee has two cartilaginous discs located between the femur and the tibia, acting like a cushion to absorb the impacts of movements made with the limb and to evenly distribute the weight of loads. Therefore, when a meniscus tear occurs, a person not only feels pain but may also have some mobility functions limited.

What Causes a Meniscus Tear?

Meniscus tears are very common in sports activities because many of these activities demand a great deal of muscle effort in the legs and joints (such as football, tennis, skiing, basketball, etc.), often leading athletes to make sudden and aggressive movements like pivots, stops, turns, squats, and more.

Obesity, aging, and constant heavy lifting can also increase the risk of experiencing a meniscus tear. Additionally, people suffering from arthritis or other degenerative diseases are more vulnerable to such problems.

What Are the Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear?

It’s common for meniscus injuries not to present symptoms immediately; they may take around 24 hours to appear, especially in the case of small tears.

The main symptoms of a meniscus tear include:

Cuales Son Los Sintomas De Una Rotura De Menisco

Clicking or popping noises at the time of injury, and subsequently with flexion of the joint.

Localized pain.

Joint inflammation caused by synovial effusion.

Stiffness.

Limitation to fully extend the knee.

Sensation of joint locking.

Instability.

Although the knee has two different menisci (the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus), the discomfort in both is similar. Therefore, pinpointing the exact location of pain can be challenging for patients before consulting a doctor. However, medical expertise allows professionals to notice different characteristics to establish a concrete and accurate diagnosis.

What Is the Recovery Time After Treatment?

The recovery time after a meniscus tear is much shorter than that of other types of joint injuries. Generally, conventionally treated meniscus tears are satisfactorily resolved within 2 to 3 weeks after the incident.

If your tear required meniscus surgery, recovery can extend from 4 to 6 weeks. It’s worth noting that these times can vary because each patient has their own unique healing process.

Types of Meniscus Tears

There are several types of meniscus tears, with the most common being the Posterior Horn of the Lateral Meniscus Tear (PHLM) and the Anterior Horn of the Medial Meniscus Tear (AHMM).

Posterior Horn of the Lateral Meniscus Tear (PHLM)

As the name suggests, this is a tear in the posterior part of the lateral meniscus of the knee. This tear can be caused by sudden movements or excessive forces on the knee, such as sudden twists or forced flexion and extension movements.

Symptoms of this injury may include pain in the back or side of the knee, swelling, difficulty moving the knee, and a feeling of locking or catching.

Anterior Horn of the Medial Meniscus Tear (AHMM)

This is a tear in the anterior part of the medial meniscus of the knee and is often associated with sports injuries, including rapid changes of direction or pivoting movements.

Symptoms of this type of meniscus tear typically include pain on the inner side of the knee, swelling, locking or catching sensation, and difficulty fully bending or straightening the knee.

It’s worth noting that both types of tears can occur as a result of the previously mentioned injuries or due to natural wear and tear (degenerative tears).

Tipos De Rotura De Menisco

Consequences of Improperly Treating a Meniscus Tear

If a meniscus tear is not properly treated, several consequences and complications can arise. Some of them are:

Pain and limited movement:

A meniscus tear can cause knee pain and limit the ability to move. If not effectively treated, the pain can persist and worsen over time, making it difficult to carry out daily and sports activities.

Knee instability:

The meniscus plays an important role in knee stability. When a meniscus tear is not addressed correctly, the knee joint can become unstable, increasing the risk of additional injuries such as ligament sprains or articular cartilage injuries.

Development of osteoarthritis:

The lack of treatment for a meniscus tear can accelerate the joint degeneration process and increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that causes pain, inflammation, and limited joint mobility.

Knee locking:

In some cases, an untreated meniscus tear can cause the torn fragments to displace and interfere with normal knee movement. This can lead to knee locking or trapping, requiring urgent medical attention.

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