A meniscus is a piece of cartilage acting as a cushion, stabilizing your joints. Its job is to protect your bones from wear and tear. A simple and sudden twist of the knee can tear it, causing pain. In some cases, a piece of this cartilage can break up and get stuck in the knee joint, causing it to lock up. A meniscus tear can be very debilitating and is, surprisingly, quite common. In fact, it is one of the most common cartilage injuries of the knee.
A meniscus tear is thus quite common in contact sports such as rugby as well as non-contact sports that require players to jump and cut, such as volleyball and football. In simple words, it can happen when a person suddenly changes direction while running (putting immense pressure on the knees), and many times time occurs when there’s a pre-existing knee injury, like an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
Older athletes are more prone to meniscus tears as it weakens with age. More than 40% of people over 65 years of age have them.
A standard physical exam will be conducted by a bone specialist doctor in UAE. He’ll ask you to move your knee and legs in different directions and angles, walk the way you walk and ask you to squat a few times to locate the problem and the cause, if possible.
X-rays: Meniscus won’t show up on x-rays as it is made up of cartilage. But an x-ray is ordered to rule out symptoms of other knee injuries.
MRI: The ideal way to detect the tear. An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field that gives out clear images of both hard and soft tissues.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to draw up images from inside the body. This helps in detecting loose cartilages stuck in the knee joint if any.
If the above options fail to detect a tear, the doctor might suggest an arthroscopy. Also, if it’s certain that you need surgery, your doctor will most probably use what is called an arthroscope.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure. A small incision is made near the knee. Then an arthroscope, a thin and flexible fibre-optic device, is inserted through the incision. The instrument has a small light and camera. Once the arthroscopy is conducted, the patient can usually go home the same day.
Meniscus tear Treatment Options
Meniscus tear treatment in Dubai depends on the type and location of the tear. Mild, less severed options are considered first.
If the tears are due to arthritis, they get better over time with the treatment of arthritis, so surgery isn’t usually required in this case. There are many other kinds of tears that may not be associated with locking up the knee and its motion and might become better over time. Hence, even in such cases, surgery isn’t required.
The doctor at the orthopaedic hospital in Dubai might suggest:
Take enough rest. Don’t put any pressure on your knees. If the pain is too much, it’s recommended to use clutches
Apply ice or a cold pack where it pains. Keep the knee elevated and do this for 15 minutes at a time. Do this every four to six hours for the first couple of days – after that, as and when required
OTC medications are also available that’ll relieve your pain
Physical therapy proves to be very effective if you’re consistent with the exercises. It’ll help strengthen the muscles around your knee and legs and support the knee joint.
Surgery is the last resort if the above methods don’t deliver results. If a meniscus tear is found in children or young adults, it’s also possible to repair it.
If repairing the tear isn’t possible, the meniscus can be surgically trimmed with the help of tiny incisions using an arthroscope. Post-surgery, you’ll have to do certain exercises that’ll increase and maintain your knee’s strength and mobility.
If you are suffering from advanced degenerative arthritis, you might be recommended a knee replacement. For younger people who have signs and symptoms of surgery but no advanced arthritis, they have the option of a meniscus transplant open for them. This involves transplanting a meniscus from a cadaver.