Orthopaedic Surgery, Pain Management & Sports Medicine Specialists located in Santa Barbara, Solvang, & Oxnard, CA
Meniscus tears are injuries that affect the shock-absorbing cartilage inside your knee. If you experience this common, painful injury, the board-certified orthopaedic surgeons at Alta Orthopaedics can help. They have on-site diagnostic facilities and provide both non-surgical and surgical treatments for meniscus tears. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call one of the Alta Orthopaedics offices at Solvang, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, or Oxnard, California, or book an appointment online today.
Meniscus Tears Q & A
What are meniscus tears?
The meniscus – a piece of tough, rubbery cartilage in the shape of a letter C – acts as a shock absorber. There are two in each of your knees between your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia). Meniscus tears can result from degenerative changes over many years or occur suddenly following an acute twisting injury.
Meniscus tears can affect athletes at any age, regardless of their activity level. They're one of the most common knee injuries in sports, but they can just as likely occur during a morning walk.
What types of meniscus tears are there?
The types of meniscus tears the Alta Orthopaedics team sees most often include:
Bucket handle tear
This is a complete tear of the inner rim of your meniscus that moves from the outside of your knee into the center. Bucket handle tears often require surgical intervention as they can cause your knee to lock up.
Flap or "parrot beak" tear
In this type of meniscal tear, the meniscus is still attached on one side but torn on the other. On diagnostic imaging, a flap tear curves like a crescent, which is why it's also known as a "parrot's beak" tear. A displaced flap tear can become extremely painful.
A radial tear goes across the meniscus toward the outer edge of your knee.
What symptoms do meniscus tears cause?
If you suffer an acute meniscus tear, you might hear a "pop" at the moment you incur the injury. Other symptoms include:
- Pain in your knee
- Stiffness and swelling
- Catching or locking of the knee
How are meniscus tears treated?
The Alta Orthopaedics team treats most meniscus tears using medications, physical therapy, and bracing. However, in very young patients and those with a displaced meniscus or one that causes the knee joint to lock, surgery might be necessary.
There are two minimally invasive arthroscopic methods the Alta Orthopaedics team can use to treat your meniscus tear:
Your provider removes the torn part of the meniscus from your knee so that it stops causing symptoms.
In this procedure, your provider sews the torn part of the meniscus back to the main section using a suture.
Patients recover faster after a partial meniscectomy but permanently lose a piece of their meniscus. Meniscus repair requires a longer recovery and rehabilitation period as it's vital to protect the repair; however, you do retain a more complete meniscus.
If you have a meniscus tear or any of the symptoms, call Alta Orthopaedics today or book an appointment online.