A meniscus tear is a common injury, especially in jobs requiring extensive physical labor. A person can tear their meniscus in a bicycle accident or pedestrian accident as well. Meniscus tears are less common in automobile accidents, but they can occur.
The meniscus is a C-shaped structure that cushions the bone of the upper leg and the bone in the lower leg in the knee. The meniscus is spongy and prevents the bones in your legs from rubbing together. The meniscus also helps the body distribute the weight of the person evenly.
Meniscus tears can be painful injuries. A mild meniscus tear might heal in a couple of weeks on its own with little to no medical intervention other than taking an anti-inflammatory drug to reduce swelling. A medium meniscus tear could result in the patient having orthoscopic surgery to repair the tear. The pain and swelling associated with a medium meniscus tear might lessen two to three weeks after the event that caused the tear. A medium meniscus tear is easy to aggravate and reinjure unless repaired. Finally, a severe meniscus tear requires surgical intervention to repair. The pain associated with a severe meniscus tear is substantial. The knee stiffens and is challenging to move.
Orthopedic surgeons use a variety of tools to diagnose meniscus tears. Doctors will use X-rays and MRIs to view the significance of the damage done to the knee. X-rays will only show solid structures like bones. The meniscus will not appear on an X-ray. However, the doctor can use an X-ray to measure the distance between leg bones to get a preliminary diagnosis of a meniscus tear and will use manipulation tests to confirm that diagnoses. The doctor will use the MRI to pinpoint the location of the tear and determine the severity of the injury.
If surgery is indicating to repair the damage, the patient will be out of work for some time to recover from the surgery. The patient will undergo a course of physical therapy to strengthen and protect the knee.
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