Meniscus Tears: What You Need To Know!

Meniscus tears can occur in a split second. These tears are common knee injuries caused by twisting or turning quickly or by tissue degeneration over time. When a traumatic impact occurs, the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligament) may also become damaged.

meniscus anatomy

The knee has two menisci, the medical meniscus and lateral meniscus, which are c-shaped pieces of cartilage that cushion the knee joint and balance weight evenly across the knee. A torn meniscus usually results in pain and swelling in the joint. You may also experience stiffness, popping, and/or locking if the torn piece is catching within the knee.

How Can I Treat My Meniscus Tear?

Meniscal tears are classified on a scale from 1-3; 1 being the least severe and 3 being the most. Grade 1 and 2 tears can usually be repaired without surgery, whereas grade 3 tears generally require surgery. As well as the severity, the location, type of tear, and the patient’s age and activity level are all factors considered when determining the course of treatment.

meniscus blood supply

The meniscus cartilage has limited blood flow compared to other soft tissue in the body and the amount of blood vessels throughout the meniscus varies. The outer one-third of the meniscus is vascular (having many blood vessels) to allow blood into the area. The central part of each meniscus has fewer blood vessels and the inner third does not contain any. Since blood transports the necessary nutrients to heal tissue, damage on the outer peripheral of the meniscus can heal faster than on the inner portion.

When a tear occurs, swelling must be reduced to allow the blood to flow through the knee. A natural way to reduce swelling and pain is with Cold Compression Therapy. Once swelling has minimized, you can promote faster and more complete healing of your meniscus by improving blood flow to the knee with Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy.

Whether you are treating a grade 1 or 2 tear or healing your knee joint post-op, by increasing blood flow you are assisting the body’s natural healing process to get yourself on your feet faster.

Evidence shows that surgically removing even a small portion of the meniscus will increase a patient’s risk of degeneration in the knee joint. Therefore, it is beneficial to use these therapies prior to surgery to heal what can be healed and minimize the amount of meniscus that needs to be repaired or trimmed.

Preventing Meniscus Tears

Treating meniscus injuries properly is important but preventing the injury in the first place should be your priority. Here is what you can do to help:

  1. Maintain a Strong, Flexible Knee Joint – keep the muscles and tendons in your legs in good condition by performing stretching and strengthening exercises for your quadriceps and legs. This will make your knees more stable and help to take some of the load off your menisci.
  2. Warm Up – your body is less prone to injury during exercise when your heart, muscles and joints are gently warmed ahead of time.
  3. Rest Your Body – allow your body adequate time to recover after strenuous exercises to repair any soft tissue damage that may have occurred.
  4. Use Proper Equipment For Protection – supportive footwear with cushioning will help to keep your knees stable during activity. If your knee is weak or unstable, a knee brace, strapping or taping can provide extra support.
  5. Avoid Activities That Cause Pain – if you are experiencing knee pain during any activity, stop and see a doctor to find out why. Modify your activity (i.e. use a stationary bike instead of a treadmill or wear knee pads to prevent wear and tear) to prevent further damage.

Treat your knees right and you will enjoy years of pain free mobility!

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