Treatments & Therapies

Causes and Treatment of Meniscus Tear – Treatment, Effect & Risks

Causes and treatment of meniscus tear

The knee joints are under a great deal of stress, especially during sports, for example soccer, skiing and also in athletics. Sharp twists and turns can cause the meniscus, the cartilaginous buffer between the articular surfaces in the knee joint, to tear or tear. Although such an injury is one of the most common sports accidents , it can be avoided with the right behavior. This article will explain when a meniscus tear can occur and how to prevent such an injury.

What is a meniscus tear?

Meniscus injuries or meniscus tears are particularly common when a well-known soccer player, track and field athlete or skier has to stay in bed in the hospital because of such a sports accident . Now not every injured meniscus is operated on immediately. In the case of a first-time injury, especially in young patients up to 25 years of age, there is a chance of healing without an operation.

The operation is only necessary if the conservative healing measures have not been successful or if no reliable scar has formed after the first accident and the meniscus has been injured again. The damaged meniscus is either partially or completely removed.

Are the menisci so superfluous that you can simply remove them without any danger? Medicine has investigated this question very thoroughly, especially since the number of knee injuries in work and sports accidents has increased and meniscus operations are now routine operations in almost all clinics. It is quite clear that the menisci are by no means superfluous structures, but represent necessary and important components for the undisturbed function of the knee joint.

They increase the contact surface of the joint between thigh and tibia, compensate for the different shapes of the joint surfaces of the thigh and lower leg that can move against one another, absorb the compression acting on the joint like elastic buffers and distribute it over a larger area.

However, only the healthy meniscus fulfills these important and diverse functions. It consists of a fibrocartilaginous material. Seen from above, it has a crescent shape and is wedge-shaped in cross section. It is located between the outer and inner joints of the thigh and tibia. Its length depends on age and is about seven centimeters, the width averages ten to thirteen millimeters. The possibility of an injury is greater on the inner meniscus than on the outer because it is particularly firmly connected to the joint capsule and can therefore only be moved slightly.

Damage to the inner meniscus is therefore ten times more common than damage to the outer one. The forms of injury are extraordinarily diverse. There are cracks or tears. The meniscus can also tear off completely. There is always a risk that the detached part of the meniscus will get caught between the two articular knobs and suddenly block mobility, causing severe pain .

Complications & Causes

Even worse than the joint lock and pain is the severe damage that the torn off part of the meniscus causes to the articular cartilage. It is pressed onto the cartilage surface under such high pressure that it can be destroyed at that point. If no intervention is made now, the resulting cartilage ulcer will develop into arthrosis over time , which is a term used to describe premature wear and tear in the joint. It can permanently limit the mobility and load-bearing capacity of the knee joint.

The fortunate fact that a new meniscus forms in the resulting tissue gap after a short time, which is usually somewhat narrower, but otherwise hardly differs from the original meniscus, also speaks for the timely removal of the damaged meniscus. It can even happen that this “replacement meniscus” is also damaged in another accident. We’ve seen this especially in high-performance athletes who regained full competitive ability after removing that second meniscus.

The meniscus can also tear from minor events of everyday life, such as stumbling, slipping, or missteps, but it is most commonly injured in accidents. 89 percent of all meniscus injuries can be traced back to a sports accident, but only 11 percent to an accident at work. Not every sport has the same number of injuries, which means that the sport should not be held responsible for the injuries, but rather the particular conditions under which it is practiced and, in many cases, one’s own incorrect behavior. Fortunately, since more and more people are doing sports, sports medicine has become an important task with the prophylaxis (prevention) of sports accidents.

Prevention in sports

The analysis of meniscus injuries has already shown that most of the damage occurs in sports in which unnatural and therefore dangerous leverage forces act on the knee joint. This is particularly the case in soccer, but it also occurs in skiing and some athletic disciplines. Friends of round leather, for example, are familiar with the “instep” punch.It fulfills exactly the conditions for a meniscus injury, because when hit with the ball of the big toe, the lower leg is rotated outwards with such force while the thigh is stationary that the meniscus can tear. The risk of injury increases if the ball is not hit in a free shot, but an opponent blocks the ball at the same moment.

Football fans know that this action by the opponent is not allowed, but it does happen quite often. A preventive measure is the hit with the side of the little toe, which players find difficult to adjust to. The studs on soccer shoes are recognized as another cause of meniscus injuries.

They are approved by the international association up to a length of 1.9 cm and prevent slipping in unfavorable ground conditions. The arrangement and the number of cleats not only fix the foot against slipping, but also against rotation. This could be remedied by a more practical arrangement of the studs, which prevents the risk of slipping, but at least still allows rotation to a certain extent.

Young soccer players should, if possible, do without cleats altogether and instead wear shoes with profiled soles. In the accident statistics for meniscus injuries, alpine skiing ranks second. Fortunately, most of the time, only minor injuries occur. Seventy-five percent of all skiing accidents occur among beginners.

To reduce the risk of injury, beginners are advised to use short skis (carving skis), which have less leverage than previous boards. Modern safety bindings have also proved their worth. As soon as a certain torque is exceeded, as in the case of an unforeseen twisting of the body or a twisting fall, the brackets that fix the ski boot to the ski loosen and release the foot.

Beginners are also well advised not only to adapt to the respective snow conditions as the boards grow, but also to adjust their skiing accordingly. Deep snow is ideal for a hike, but if you get caught in a deep snowfield on a descent, the sudden braking effect can cause a nasty fall.

This is something to think about when there is fresh snow. When descending in wet snow, people like to use the tracks of previous runners or skiers. However, when the track is very steep and the pace is accelerating, the runner who cannot cope with the conditions often has to give up the correct downhill position with knees advanced and good leaning in an attempt to get off the track.

He falls, usually gets caught with the ski, which is torn backwards and outwards, and his body falls forward in the direction of travel. Here, too, the meniscus can tear. After all, many injuries result from the runner overdoing it. He is then, for example, no longer able to adapt his speed to the descent on a descent, and his uncontrolled speed exposes him to an increased risk of an accident.

The winter sports enthusiast should therefore assess his ability correctly and then choose the degree of difficulty of “his” slope or ski slope. But even advanced skiers should first get to know the skis again in less difficult terrain at the beginning of the winter holiday and remember that the joy of a successful, dashing descent not only depends on mastering good technique, but also requires a trained body .Therefore, the preparations for the winter sports holiday should begin a few weeks in advance with gymnastic exercises, especially stretching exercises for the calf muscles. By doing sports correctly, we can do a lot ourselves to avoid injuries to the meniscus as much as possible.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.