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Recognizing the Signs of a Meniscus Tear

Recognizing the Signs of a Meniscus Tear

Your knees are both complex and hard-working, which is the perfect recipe for injury. While there are many ways you can injure a knee joint, meniscus tears are among the more common.

To help you identify whether the symptoms in your knee might stem from a meniscus tear, we take a closer look at this type of injury in this month’s blog post. And who better to explain the issue than our own board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Schell, who heads the team here at William Schell, MD.

A quick dive into the anatomy of your knee

Your knees are the largest joints in your body, which makes sense given their enormous workload. From supporting most of your body to providing mobility, your knees work hard and almost constantly, and every component in the joint is important. 

At the heart of your knee are the three bones that come together to make up the joint, including your:

  1. Tibia
  2. Femur
  3. Kneecap

These bones are held together by ligaments, tendons, and muscles, and the cushioning inside your knee is supplied by your menisci. These shock absorbers are C-shaped pieces of fibrocartilage — two menisci in each of your knees — that separate your femur and tibia. Outside of providing shock absorption, your menisci also provide a good deal of stability to your knees.

When a meniscus tears

A meniscus can tear because of acute trauma, such as when you pivot suddenly, but can also develop over time due to degenerative changes in your knee. In fact, more than 75% of people with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis also have meniscus damage.

No matter how the tear develops, the symptoms are the same and include:

While most people can still support weight on a knee with a meniscus tear, the stiffness and pain can get progressively worse, and your knee can become increasingly unstable.

The loss of range of motion mostly affects your ability to fully extend your leg or bend your knee past a certain point.

Why intervention with a meniscus tear is important

The reason it’s so important to have us evaluate your knee for a meniscus tear is that these injuries often can’t heal on their own. The outer third of your meniscus does enjoy some vascularization, which means it has access to regenerative and reparative resources. The inner two-thirds, however, doesn’t have a good blood supply, so any tear that extends past the outer third won’t likely heal on its own.

The good news is that Dr. Schell is a skilled orthopedic surgeon who has extensive experience performing arthroscopic knee repair.

After fully assessing the damage in your meniscus, Dr. Schell comes up with the best plan for restoring the tissue so you can regain full use of your knee again.

If you suspect you have a meniscus tear or any other problem in your knee, please contact our New York City office to schedule a consultation. We’re located on Columbus Circle on the Upper West Side.

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