The meniscus performs as a cushion in the joint of the knee. It is a piece of cartilage that is shaped like the letter "C." If damaged, it is often unable to heal normally on its own. This is mainly due to the limited blood supply to a large portion of the of meniscus's center. There are several different types of meniscus treatment options available to help heal damage to the meniscus, including a meniscus repair, meniscectomy, and meniscus transplant.
Tears of the meniscus are a common reason treatment may be needed. Pieces of the meniscus cartilage may be injured or torn by movements that rotate the knee in an abnormal way. This can happen if the upper portion of the leg is abruptly twisted while the bottom portion of the leg and foot remains planted on the ground. Additionally, quickly twisting the knee is another common way the meniscus may be injured.
Diagnoses of a meniscus injury can be made by medical imaging devices such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test or x-ray. One of the most common symptoms of an injury is knee pain. Other symptoms can include a locking or weak sensation in the knee. A limitation in the range of motion of the knee and swelling may also be present.
Different types of meniscus treatment may be prescribed according to the extent of injury. Minor injuries of the meniscus may be simply treated with anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain. Elevation, ice packs, and resting the site of injury may also be effective treatment methods of a minor injury. Severe tears may be cause for a more elaborate type of treatment.
A meniscus repair may be a required meniscus treatment for more severe tears. Meniscus repairs are performed to either remove the meniscus that is torn or to repair it by sewing the torn parts back together. Tacks may also be placed in the knee to rejoin the torn meniscus. The purpose of this surgical treatment is to align the tears so they can heal back into their normal place.
Meniscectomy is another possibility for meniscus treatment. This is an arthroscopic surgical procedure performed to remove a meniscus that is torn. Small incisions are made into the knee joint and a camera is inserted to help the surgeon locate the tears in order to remove them. The patient will typically be on crutches for an extended period of time after the surgery. Normal activities are generally resumed rather quickly after undergoing this procedure.
Meniscus transplantation is a treatment option available for individuals who have had the meniscus completely removed. This knee surgery may be an option for patients who continue to be in a great deal of pain where the meniscus was located. The replacement meniscus usually comes from a cadaver donor. The main goal of having a meniscus transplant is to restore the cushion function provided by the meniscus in the joint of the knee and to relieve the pain and discomfort of not having one.
A physician should typically be consulted after a meniscus injury. Factors such as the severity of the injury, age, and the level of daily activity may be considered when deciding upon a treatment method. Nonsurgical treatment may be an option for minor injuries. If surgery is needed, a physician should be able to outline all of the different types of meniscus treatment options available.