How are Meniscus Tears Diagnosed?
Dr. Mazzara will discuss with the patient their medical background, history and how the injury occurred. He will perform a physical examination of the knee, including what is called the McMurray test – where he will bend the knee, then straighten and rotate it while checking for pain or clicking. Dr. Mazzara will also check for tenderness along the joint where the meniscus sits, which is often a sign of a tear. Radiological tests may be requested to tell the extent of injury, including x-ray and MRI.
How is a Meniscus Tear Treated?
The type of tear, size and location are all contributing factors of how Dr. Mazzara will treat a meniscus tear. Some meniscus tears may be degenerative which means they resulted from routine activity with no significant trauma. These are often treated without surgery and may also be associated with osteoarthritis in the same knee. Other tears may be the result of a specific event or injury. It’s usually sudden onset is associated with a specific event or unusual knee position or injury that patients will recall as the onset of their pain.
Does a Meniscus Tear Require Surgery?
Degenerative tears or those associated with some osteoarthritis may not require surgery and are often treated with anti-inflammatory medications, a steroid injection and physical therapy.
How is a Meniscus Tear Treated with Surgery?
In knees without arthritis with a painful and symptomatic meniscus tear or for patients who fail to improve with non-operative treatment who have minimal arthritis, Dr. Mazzara may recommend a minimally invasive surgery called arthroscopic repair. This procedure involves a miniature camera and small surgical instruments, inserted into the knee to resect or repair the tear.
Dr. Mazzara will assess the damage of the meniscus and based on the patient’s age, size of the tear, location and other injuries, will decide to repair or resect the torn meniscus. For a meniscus to be repairable, the tear must be in the section of the meniscus where there is a healthy blood supply (the outer one third of the meniscus) and it must be of a certain size and pattern. Tears that extend into the inner two thirds of the meniscus will not heal if repaired and are trimmed back to healthy stable meniscus tissue. This is called a meniscectomy.
Rehabilitation for a meniscus repair is about 3 months, with considerably less time for a debridement – approximately 3 to 4 weeks. Physical therapy may be prescribed once the initial healing is complete. Regular exercise to restore the knee’s mobility and to strengthen the joint is necessary. Range of motion, followed by strengthening exercises will gradually be added to a patient’s rehabilitation plan.
To learn more about a meniscus tear and meniscal deficiency, or to inquire about knee pain and other related symptoms, please contact the orthopedic offices of Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic knee specialist in Manchester, South Windsor, Enfield, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities.