Approximately 500,000 people tear a meniscus each year, making it a fairly common knee injury. The meniscus provides a cushion between your thigh bone and shin. Each of your knee joints has two menisci, which are made of cartilage.

Twisting, quick stops, and other sudden movements can damage your meniscus. And you don’t have to be terribly active to suffer the injury. When the injury occurs, you may hear or feel a “pop.”

Symptoms of a torn meniscus include:

  • Knee pain
  • Swelling
  • Trouble bending the joint
  • Difficulty extending the knee
  • A feeling of the knee locking up

Suspect a torn meniscus if you notice those symptoms after:

1. Direct impact

A tackle in a game of football or on the ice during hockey can cause your meniscus to tear, especially if you experience impact on the front or side of the knee.

2. Pivoting

Make a sharp pivot during a game of basketball or when swinging a golf club and you can accidentally damage your meniscus.

3. Squatting or kneeling

Rising quickly from a squat or kneeling position puts you at risk of meniscus damage.

4. Cutting

Cutting quickly while running in a soccer match or on the tennis court can over-rotate your knee and cause the meniscus to tear.

5. Lifting heavy weights

Squatting or lunging with very heavy weights and without good form can tear your meniscus.

6. Stopping suddenly

If you’re playing a sport, such as tennis or basketball, and stop suddenly when sprinting down the court, you could overextend the knee joint and cause a tear.

7. Skiing

Heading down a slope and getting your ski caught or getting off the lift at just the wrong angle are common causes of meniscus injury.

8. Stepping on uneven ground

Bounding down trails or running on other uneven surfaces — such as football turf — can cause you to step in such as way that your knee twists and your meniscus pops.

9. Climbing stairs

As you age, the cartilage at your knee naturally degenerates. Six out of 10 patients older than 65 experience damage to the meniscus even after doing simple activities, such as climbing stairs or walking.

10. Getting out of a chair

You’re vulnerable to a meniscus tear when you get out of a chair or car and twist at an odd angle, especially as you get older and the cartilage weakens.

If you exhibit symptoms that suggest a meniscus tear, the team here at the office of Struan Coleman, MD, PhD, do a thorough physical exam. You may undergo X-rays to rule out a broken bone and an MRI to give the medical team a better view of the cartilage and possible damage.

Rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy are the most conservative treatments for a meniscus tear. If these prove ineffective, you may undergo electrical stimulation and cortisone injections to relieve pain.

In the case of severe tears or repeated injuries, Dr. Coleman may recommend surgical intervention. If you do suspect you have a meniscus tear, our office is here to help. Call today or make an appointment for a consultation online.

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