The menisci are strips of cartilage that are found within the knee. A torn meniscus is the result when this cartilage rips due to traumatic force or as the result of degenerative wear and tear. It most commonly occurs in people indulging in physical activities, but in older people it can be caused by something as innocuous as walking or simple day-to-day activities.
A torn meniscus can lead to discomfort or pain coupled with possible swelling of the knee-joint. More serious tears can cause the knee to make clicking noises or to lock, preventing the sufferer from being able to straighten their leg. Pain and discomfort is usually exacerbated when the knee is bearing extra weight during, for example, lifting or physical exercise. Typically, a torn meniscus occurs when the knee rotates whilst it is slightly bent. Even a motion as simple as getting out of a car can cause this injury.
A torn meniscus is very common in professional sportsmen, as typically during some activities the menisci cartilage will bear around 40% of the body’s weight. There are many elements when it comes to preventing a torn meniscus. Proper footwear is key. Suitably designed footwear keeps the body properly balanced during physical activity. Unsuitable footwear will see a rise in the risk of overbalancing and inducing trauma that affects and in turn can potentially damage the knee-joint. Stretching before commencing physical activity is also very important as it cuts the risk of injury.
A torn meniscus will usually heal itself, as long as the sufferer refrains from activities that will put the knee-joint under any kind of pressure. Anti-inflammatory medicines may also help. In severe cases or in cases where the knee becomes locked it may require a surgeon to enter the knee and repair the tear.