Meniscal injuries refer to damage or tears in the menisci, which are C-shaped pieces of cartilage located in the knee joint. The knee joint consists of the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (kneecap), and the menisci serve as cushions between these bones to provide stability, absorb shock, and distribute forces during movement.
There are two menisci in each knee, the medial meniscus located on the inner side and the lateral meniscus located on the outer side. Meniscal injuries can occur due to various reasons, including trauma, degeneration, or age-related wear and tear. Traumatic meniscal injuries often result from sudden twisting or pivoting movements of the knee, such as those that commonly occur during sports activities. These injuries can involve a partial or complete tear of the meniscus and are often accompanied by other knee injuries, such as ligament sprains or strains.
Degenerative meniscal injuries, on the other hand, occur gradually over time due to age-related changes in the menisci. As we age, the menisci become more brittle and prone to tearing. In these cases, even simple movements or minor injuries can cause a tear in the meniscus.
The symptoms of a meniscal injury can vary depending on the severity and location of the tear. Common signs include pain, swelling, stiffness, and a sensation of catching or locking in the knee joint. Some individuals may also experience difficulty fully straightening or bending the knee. In more severe cases, a torn meniscus can cause instability in the knee, leading to a feeling of giving way or the knee "buckling" during movement.
Diagnosis of meniscal injuries typically involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, and imaging tests. Dr Rajesh Malhotra will assess the patient's symptoms, recommend specific tests to assess the stability and range of motion of the knee, and order imaging studies such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of the injury.
Treatment options for meniscal injuries depend on several factors, including the type and location of the tear, as well as the patient's age, activity level, and overall health. In some cases, conservative measures may be sufficient to manage the symptoms and promote healing. These measures may include rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), pain medications, and physical therapy exercises to improve strength and flexibility.
However, if the symptoms persist or the tear is severe, surgical intervention may be necessary. The two primary surgical approaches for meniscal injuries are meniscectomy and meniscus repair. Meniscectomy involves removing the damaged portion of the meniscus, while meniscus repair involves suturing the torn edges together to promote healing. The choice of surgical technique depends on various factors, including the size and location of the tear, and the patient's age. Dr. Rajesh Malhotra will help you know the right surgical treatment for you.
Following surgery, a rehabilitation program is usually recommended to restore knee function and promote recovery. This may involve a gradual progression of weight-bearing activities, strengthening exercises, and a focus on improving flexibility and range of motion. The duration of rehabilitation varies depending on the individual and the extent of the injury.
It is important to note that untreated or inadequately managed meniscal injuries can lead to complications such as persistent knee pain, limited mobility, and an increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis over time.