By Dr. Ryan Geringer
A meniscus tear is one of the most common knee injuries. Each knee has two menisci encapsulating the knee joint. Together they help to keep your leg steady, strong and straight. It is easy to tear a meniscus anytime you pivot or move the knee while the foot is stationary, such as during sports. As you age the risk increases with 35% of people over 50 having a torn meniscus.
Tears can be mild to severe. Minor tears result in some pain and swelling, but heal by themselves. Moderate to severe tears may leave pieces of the meniscus in the joint cavity or form rough edges that make movement painful or impossible. It is also important to note where the meniscus is torn. Tears along the edge heal well by themselves. However, tears in the inner areas of the meniscus do not heal by themselves whether they are left alone or even after they have been sewn together.
The treatment for tears has traditionally been physical therapy and the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) for mild and moderate tears. More severe tears have typically resulted in an operation to repair the knee. Some tears are candidates for a partial meniscectomy which removes the torn section and smooths down any rough edges.
Recent studies however call into question the usefulness of these surgeries. In one study, researchers tracked the recovery of 351 people with both severe tears and osteoarthritis. Patients were either treated with physical therapy or with surgery. At 6 and 12 months after the surgeries there was no difference in functional improvement between the two groups. Another study was focused on patients with tears due to the degeneration of the meniscus. Again, no difference in improvement was found between persons who had a surgery to repair the tear and those who did not have the surgery. The choice to have surgery or not is a decision to be made with your physician. In the meantime, you can relieve symptoms yourself with a knee injury kit.
Our kits come with everything you need to treat your tear at home. Our Reaction Knee Brace allows your knee to rest (the “r” in RICE) in the early days after injury. It supports proper alignment of the joint and its unique webbing and lightweight construction provide both support and comfort. Our Freeze Sleeve tackles the Ice and Compression requirements of the RICE method by wrapping tightly around the knee with a soothing cool gel to help reduce swelling and relieve pain. Eventually after an injury, it is important to get moving again with some physical training. Our Strength and Stretch Plan created by physical therapist Mike Verplancke will help you regain strength and a full range of motion with the help of a stretch strap and pack of five resistance bands. And finally, our Fast Freeze analgesic spray will provide relief to sore muscles as they recover from the injury as well.
A meniscus tear, while common, is still a medically significant injury. Our Meniscus Care Kit is there to help you recover so you can get back to what you love.
*This post is designed to be educational only. For specific treatment option for you please consult your physician.