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Meniscus Tears Can Be Very Painful: Here's What to Know

Cartilage is a thick, slippery material that cushions the bones in your joints. Although it’s flexible, it can get damaged or deteriorate over time. Damaged cartilage can cause intense pain, swelling, and joint stiffness -- and the knee is one of the most common locations for cartilage injury.

Your knee joint is cushioned by two C-shaped pieces of cartilage on either side called menisci. Sudden impact, an awkward turn, or age-related degeneration can injure this cartilage and leave you with a painful meniscus tear.

If you find yourself with a knee injury, don’t wait to seek treatment. Our specialists at Manhattan Orthopedics are experts in diagnosing and treating meniscus tears so you can get back on your feet.

Causes of meniscus tears

The menisci play a crucial role in your knee joints. The cartilage protects the two main bones of your leg (your femur and tibia), and it absorbs shock with every step you take.

Your meniscus could get damaged with abrupt impact, pressure, or sudden movement. Meniscus tears are some of the most common sports injuries, because gameplay often requires sudden stops, pivots, or jumps that wear on knees.

Sports like basketball, football, soccer, and tennis could all increase your risk of suffering a meniscus tear. Other activities, like deep squats with weightlifting or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), could also damage your meniscus.

Although athletes are at risk for this common injury, anyone could develop a meniscus tear. Cartilage in joints naturally wears down over time, and your risk of getting a meniscus tear increases as you get older.

Most people who experience meniscus tears are over age 30. For seniors, a fall or an awkward step could be enough to damage the cartilage and cause knee pain.

Symptoms of meniscus tears

Acute meniscus tears often cause an audible popping sound or noticeable popping sensation at the time of injury. If your meniscus tear develops over time, it might not be so obvious at first.

Meniscus tears range in severity, but symptoms often include:

If you have a minor or partial meniscus tear, you may be able to bear weight on the affected knee, but it will feel unstable. More severe tears may make you unable to stand on the affected leg, and your knee will be painful to the touch.

Treatment options for meniscus tears

Meniscus tears can cause severe pain, and they don’t heal on their own. If you have knee pain, swelling, and stiffness, it’s important to seek a diagnosis as soon as possible.

Our team at Manhattan Orthopedics provides comprehensive care to minimize knee pain and start the healing process. Minor tears often improve with conservative care that includes rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy.

When conserviatve treatments aren’t enough, or if you suffered a full meniscus tear, you might need surgery. Our team performs minimally invasive arthroscopy for meniscus tears. We carefully remove damaged tissue, strengthen the area with sutures, and offer rehabilitation to help you heal faster after the procedure.

Find expert care for your knee pain with us. Schedule your appointment online or call the office nearest you today.

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