Get Treatment For Medial and Lateral Meniscus Tears

Great Surgical Care at Marina del Rey Hospital

Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Medial and Lateral Meniscus Tears Treatment?

Since 1969, our hospital has been providing quality healthcare to the community of Los Angeles in a warm and compassionate environment. Our medical professionals have vast experience in diagnosing medial and lateral meniscus tears and will provide you with a personalized treatment plan for your injury so that you can return to your usual activities within the shortest time possible. The treatment you will receive at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital will quickly restore the function of your meniscus so that you can enjoy a high quality of life once again.

The meniscus is a piece of solid, rubbery cartilage, absorbing the shock between the shinbone and the thighbone. It can fracture if you suddenly twist your knee while applying weight pressure on it. Every year, approximately 850,000 people tear their meniscus in the United States, the majority of whom require surgery for their injuries.

The most susceptible demographics to experiencing a meniscus tear are men between the ages of 21 and 30 and women between the ages of 11 and 19. While the medial meniscus is on the inner side of the knee joint, the lateral meniscus is on the outside of the knee.

Meniscus tears vary in size and severity and represent one of the most common knee injuries. A meniscus can be broken in half, torn around the circumference in the shape of a C, or left hanging by a thread to the knee joint. Furthermore, a barely noticeable tear may recur years later, triggered by something as simple as tripping over a sidewalk curb.

There are 3 grades used to assess the severity of a medial or lateral meniscus tear. If you have a grade 1 or grade 2 meniscus tear, you will most likely not need surgery to repair it. Instead, you will be recommended the following:

  • ice: since ice can reduce the pain and swelling associated with a torn meniscus, you should place a cold pack of ice or a bag of frozen vegetables on your knee for 15 minutes once every 4 to 6 hours per day while keeping your leg elevated
  • rest: when you have a torn meniscus, you should avoid physical activities that can worsen your symptoms, such as twisting, rotating, or pivoting your knee and you can also use crutches when walking so that the pressure on your knee is minimal
  • medication: over the counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, are very effective in alleviating the symptoms of a torn meniscus
  • physical therapy: physical therapy will help you strengthen the muscles around your knee and in your legs, which will, in turn, help stabilize and support the knee joint

However, if you have a grade 3 torn meniscus, you will usually need surgery to restore the function of your knee. The surgery you will undergo for a torn meniscus can be of multiple types, such as:

  • Arthroscopic repair: during this surgical procedure, a medical tool known as an arthroscope will be inserted into your knee through one or two small incisions. The torn meniscus will be repaired with dartlike devices that are placed across the tear to hold it together and the body tends to absorb these over time. The surgery will take approximately 40 minutes to complete and you will generally be allowed to leave the hospital the same day.
  • Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy: the purpose of this medical procedure is to remove a very small piece of the torn meniscus to get the knee functioning properly.
  • Arthroscopic total meniscectomy: during this surgery, the entire meniscus is removed, as it no longer serves as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone because it was severely torn.

There are 6 ways in which your meniscus can tear and each type requires a specific treatment approach. The following are the types of medial and lateral meniscus tears:

  • radial tear: this is the most common type of meniscus tear and occurs in the area of the knee that is not supplied with blood, which means that it cannot heal on its own and may require surgery
  • horizontal tear: as one of the easiest meniscus tears to repair, a horizontal meniscus tear requires the surgeon to sew together the circumferential fibers of the meniscus back together
  • incomplete tear: this type of meniscus tear, also known as intrasubstance tear, may appear normal when the surgeon performs surgery, but the tear is a sign that the meniscus tissue is initiating degenerative modifications
  • complex tear: there are several tear patterns linked to a complex meniscus tear, usually comprising signs of radial and horizontal tears, and this injury is not typically treated with surgery, although the meniscus can be removed
  • flap tear: this type of meniscus tear creates unusual tear patterns and the patient may experience a catching sensation in the knee, which is why they may require surgery for this injury
  • bucket handle tear: a bucket handle tear resembles a horizontal tear, but this tear concerns a larger portion of the meniscus, with the knee becoming stuck and the torn part of the meniscus blocking the normal motion of the knee

Symptoms of Medial and Lateral Meniscus Tears

The symptoms of a torn meniscus may vary depending on the severity of the injury. However, the most common symptoms of a torn medial or lateral meniscus are the following:

  • a popping sensation
  • swelling or stiffness
  • pain when twisting or rotating your knee
  • difficulty strengthening your knee fully
  • feeling like your knee is stuck in place
  • the feeling of your knee giving way

Diagnosis of Medial and Lateral Meniscus Tears

The diagnosis of a torn meniscus begins with your doctor asking you about how your knee injury occurred and about the symptoms you are experiencing. You may also be asked about your physical and athletic goals to help your physician decide on the best treatment approach. Subsequently, they will conduct a physical exam. The physical exam entails the doctor holding your heel while you lie on your back and, with your leg bent, they will strengthen your leg with their other hand on the outside of your knee as they are rotating your foot inward.

It is important to tell your doctor how much pain you feel during the physical exam so that they can determine how severe your injury is. Nevertheless, after they conduct the physical exam, they will order a series of other diagnostic tests to accurately diagnose your torn meniscus. Magnetic resonance imaging is usually the ideal diagnostic tool for a medial or lateral torn meniscus, as it provides your physician with detailed and clear images of your knee. Lastly, they will diagnose your torn meniscus by using the grading system and prescribe you the most effective treatment.

A meniscus tear generally ensues when the knee is swiftly twisted while the foot is planted on the ground. However, a tear can also develop slowly as the meniscus loses resiliency and, in such cases, a portion may break off, leaving frayed edges. Moreover, kneeling, deep squatting, or lifting heavy objects can sometimes result in a torn meniscus. The following are the risk factors for medial and lateral meniscus tears:

  • being older than 60
  • being male
  • frequent kneeling and squatting
  • playing various sports such as basketball or tennis
  • performing athletic activities regularly
  • engaging in contact sports such as football
  • climbing stairs greater than 30 flights

While there is no known way to prevent experiencing a torn meniscus, you can reduce the chances of this happening to you by regularly engaging in exercises that strengthen your leg muscles so that a meniscus tear will be less likely to occur. You can also use protective gear when you are participating in sports or a brace to support your knee during activities that increase your risk of injury.

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