Your knees are the largest joints in your body and among the hardest working. They’re also amazingly complex joints, and any seemingly minor damage can compromise the entire function of your knee, as illustrated by a meniscus tear.
If you suspect there’s something wrong with your knee, it’s important that you seek help sooner rather than later, as there’s real danger in leaving knee injuries untreated. To help you better identify the problem, the team here at Genesis Orthopaedic and Spine pulled together this quick review of meniscus tears.
Inside the knee
As we mentioned, your knees are the largest joints in your body, and they’re also fairly complex.
To start, your knee is where these three bones come together:
- Kneecap (patella)
- Femur (thighbone)
- Tibia (shinbone)
Holding these bones together and stabilizing your knee is a network of ligaments, while tendons attach to surrounding muscles to provide movement. Quite literally wedged inside your knee between your thighbone and shinbone are two pieces of cartilage called your mensici, which provide cushioning and stability within each knee joint.
The cartilage that makes up each meniscus is thicker around the perimeter, which is what provides stability. More important to this discussion, your menisci are made up of two zones: a red zone and a white zone. The red zone encompasses the outer third of your meniscus and is so named because this tissue enjoys an adequate blood supply.
The white zone of your meniscus, which makes up about 70% of the structure, is devoid of blood vessels, which means this tissue doesn’t have the ability to repair itself readily.
When you tear your meniscus, one of the first things we determine is the extent and location of the tear so that we can formulate the best treatment plan.
Signs of a meniscus tear
Meniscus tears are fairly common — about 500,000 occur each year in the United States. These types of injuries often occur among athletes who twist or stress their knees, but they can also develop as you get older and the connective tissues within your joints begin to weaken.
The primary signs of a meniscus tear include:
- Pain in your knee
- Tenderness to the touch
- Swelling around the knee
- Problems moving your knee
- A locking or catching feeling in your knee
- A feeling like your knee is going to “give way”
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see us right away so that we can pinpoint the problem, assess the damage, and get you started on an appropriate treatment plan to prevent further damage.
Treating your meniscus tear
As we discussed, your treatment plan depends on whether your meniscus tear extends into the white zone. If this is the case, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair the damage.
A great treatment option for any meniscus tear is regenerative medicine, namely:
Since your meniscus lacks the resources necessary to repair itself, we supply them through regenerative biologics, including your own platelets and stem cells. This type of approach allows your body to do what it does best — heal and rebuild damaged tissue — rewarding you with strong, sustainable results.
If you’d like to learn more about treating your meniscus tear, please contact our office in Westfield, New Jersey, to set up an appointment.