The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). There are two menisci in each knee joint. They can be damaged or torn during activities that put pressure on or rotate the knee joint . Taking a hard tackle on the football field or a sudden pivot on the basketball court can result in a meniscus tear.
You don’t have to be an athlete to get a meniscus tear, though. Simply getting up too quickly from a squatting position can also cause a meniscal tear. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, more than 500,000 meniscal tears take place in the United States each year.
Treatment options can vary from at-home remedies to outpatient surgery, depending on the severity of your injury. You can help prevent this injury by performing exercises that will strengthen your leg muscles and using proper techniques during contact activities or sports.
According to Boston Children’s Hospital, meniscus tears are increasingly common in children. This is because children are participating in organized sports at an earlier age. Additionally, when focusing on just one sport, a child is more likely to experience a meniscus tear. The same is true for teenagers who participate in competitive sports.
The meniscus weakens with age, and tears are more common in people over the age of 30. Movements like squatting or stepping can lead to injury in someone with weak menisci. If you have osteoarthritis, you’re at higher risk of injuring your knee or tearing your meniscus. Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder involving pain and stiffness in your joints caused by aging and wear and tear.
When an older person experiences a meniscus tear, it’s more likely to be related to degeneration. This is when the cartilage in the knee becomes weaker and thinner. As a result , it’s more prone to tear.
Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear
When a meniscus tear occurs, you may hear a popping sound around your knee joint. Afterward, you may experience:
- pain, especially when the area is touched
- difficulty moving your knee or inability to move it in a full range of motion
- the feeling of your knee locking or catching
- the feeling that your knee is giving way or unable to support you
You may also experience a slipping or popping sensation, which is usually an indication that a piece of cartilage has become loose and is blocking the knee joint.
Tips to Prevent Meniscus Tears
You can prevent meniscus tears by regularly performing exercises that strengthen your leg muscles. This will help stabilize your knee joint to protect it from injury.
You can also use protective gear during sports or a brace to support your knee during activities that may increase your risk of injury.
Always use proper form when exercising or engaging in activities that may put pressure on your knee joint. It’s a good idea to:
- warm up and stretch before exercising
- use proper gear, such as athletic shoes designed specifically for your activity
- lace up your footwear properly
- learn the proper techniques for the activities you engage in
Prevention is always the key to living your best life as free from drugs and surgery as possible.
If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist for more than a few days or occur after your knee has been injured, you should contact your doctor. If your knee locks and you’re unable to bend your knee after straightening it, you should call your doctor.
Have a great week. Stay healthy.