Running head: Meniscus Tears
Description of Injury
The meniscus is separated into two separate menisci. A medial, more crescent shaped menisci, and a lateral, more circular one. The meniscus is responsible for lubricating and nourishing the knee joint and assisting with joint biomechanics by mainly providing shock absorption during weight bearing. Injuries to a healthy meniscus are usually produced by a compressive force coupled with transverse-plane tibiofemoral rotation as the knee moves from flexion to extension during rapid cutting or pivoting (Brindle, 2001, 160). Meniscus tears can be considered acute or ...view middle of the document...
The third and least likely tear to occur is a horizontal tear down the middle of the menisci. This is a result of degeneration over time and starts at the inner edge and works its way back along the middle of the menisci (Micheli, 2011).
Signs, Symptoms and Diagnostic Testing
Athletes with meniscal tears commonly describe feeling a pop or snapping sensation while performing a sudden movement during activity. In most cases, the athlete will still be able to walk or run on their knee without any pain following the injury. However, after activity ceases, for several days the athlete may experience stiffness and swelling along with tenderness at the joint line (Micheli, 2011). A comprehensive examination of this injury should include a thorough injury history regional palpation, and select special tests (Brindle, 2001). X-rays can eliminate to possibility of a fracture to the surrounding bones, but magnetic resonance imaging, known as MRIs, are the preferred method of diagnosis of meniscal tears.
Initial treatment of meniscal tear follows the RICE formula which is rest, ice, compression and elevation. This combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain should help reduce the immediate onset of symptoms that will occur (Micheli, 2011). If the athlete’s knee is stable and does not lock, this conservative treatment may be all that is needed due to the fact that the tear may be small enough for the blood vessels surrounding the outer edge of the meniscus to heal the small tear on its own provided that athlete gives it the rest that it requires (Micheli, 2011).
Extended Treatment and Rehabilitation
The main goal following a meniscal injury is to control the pain and inflammation associated with maintaining range of motion and general conditioning to strengthen the knee joint during the rehabilitation process. Immediate progressive range of motion and neuromuscular reeducation and strengthening are warranted (Brindle, 2001, 168). The use of cryotherapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories will also aid in the control of pain and inflammation. Nonsurgical rehabilitation will typically last six to twelve weeks depending on severity and each individual’s healing process. Exercises will be those that focus on strengthening the muscles around the knee, avoiding high impact activities, and the possible use of a brace to stabilize the knee during the healing process (Micheli, 2011). The patient is allowed to return to full activity when there is no more signs of swelling in the knee, the pain subsides, and the patient has gained complete strength and range of motion within the knee joint (Micheli, 2011).
Surgical Repair/Reconstruction and Post-op Rehabilitation
Surgery may be needed is the meniscus does not heal on its own or the knee becomes locked. Arthroscopic...