What causes a meniscus injury?
The medial meniscus is more often injured than the lateral meniscus. Medial meniscus tears generally occur in the posterior (back) horn, which is prone to injury and harder to manage than tears in the body (center), the anterior (front), or on the periphery (outside). The posterior horn is more contained and carries more of the load than the other areas and it is difficult to reach because there are bones in the way. Peripheral tears occur on the outside near the attachment to the knee capsule. They receive a lot of blood supply, so they are easily repaired. These tears often occur in conjunction with an ACL or MCL injury.
Who is at risk?
Although knee injuries are more common in women than men, men experience more meniscus injuries and tears (approximately 2.5 males: 1 female). This is believed to be due to men's participation in more aggressive sports and manual activities. For men, meniscal injuries occur most often between the ages of 31 to 40; for females mensical tears usually occur between 11 and 20 years. Occupations where you spend a lot of time in the squat position (i.e. mining or carpet-laying), or participation in contact sports or repetitive stress activities (such as running and skiing) can put you at greater risk of a meniscus injury.
The 2 most common causes of meniscus injuries are acute trauma to the knee and degeneration of the knee joint tissue. In either case, a piece of the meniscus can loosen or tear and move around in your joint interfering with your normal knee movement and function. A person with a discoid meniscus is also at greater risk of experiencing a meniscus tear or damage.
Forceful blows to the knee occur most frequently during activities such as rugby, football, baseball, soccer, basketball or racquet sports when you twist your knee, or slow down too quickly. A meniscus injury can occur during a hit if the knee is forcefully rotated while the foot is firmly planted and bearing weight. A meniscus tear can also occur from hyperflexion or hyperextension of your knee (flexion or extension beyond your kneešs normal range of motion). Hyperflexion or hyperextension can occur during a car accident, while participating in sports or exercising, or during other low-impact activities if the knee is unstable.
These types of tears generally affect athletes or those under 40 years of age. A medial meniscus tear will frequently occur along with other injuries such as an MCL and/or ACL tear. A combined knee injury is usually seen in contact sports when an athlete gets hit on the outside of a bent knee. A lateral meniscus tear will result more often from a knee that is bent (flexed) excessively and experiences full weight bearing, while the thighbone is turning outward; seen in sports such as skiing.
Degeneration of the Fibrocartilage
In younger people, the meniscus is very flexible and pliable (like a new rubber tire). Over time, the tissue weakens and becomes less flexible, more brittle and develops small cracks in it (like those seen in an aged car tire). In addition, normal wear and tear on the knee tissue can also lead to osteoarthritis. If osteoarthritis sets in, destructive chemical substances are released in the joint cavity which further breakdown the collagen fibers. As the menisci degenerate they become more susceptible to tears which can lead to a meniscus tearing without any associated injury.
Approximately 60% of people over 65 years of age will experience some form of degenerative meniscus tear. Unfortunately, the blood supply to the menisci decreases by 20% by the age of 40 and the body's ability to heal itself becomes inhibited. As a result, it is more difficult to heal a tear caused by deterioration than an acute trauma that occurs earlier in life. With the use of Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy (BFST), blood flow can be increased to promote faster and more complete healing of a meniscus tear.
When in the womb your menisci are flat and disc shaped rather than crescent shaped wedges. When the meniscus does not develop into a crescent shape it is referred to as a discoid meniscus. A discoid meniscus is at greater risk of tearing than a regularly shaped meniscus.
A discoid meniscus generally occurs in the lateral meniscus (1.5-3% of the general population) but can appear in the medial meniscus (0.1-0.3%). The Asian population has a greater frequency of discoid menisci the rest of the world (approximately 17% lateral discoid menisci reported). A discoid meniscus is generally found in children less than 11 years of ago but the meniscus will often change to a c-shape with maturity so children will grow out of their symptoms.
The symptoms associated with a discoid meniscus can vary greatly depending on the type, location and presence of a tear. A stable discoid meniscus may be asymptomatic; only becoming symptomatic if a tear occurs. If there is a tear present, clicking, snapping, buckling and/or locking of the knee joint, decreased range of motion, joint pain and tenderness, and atrophied quadriceps (muscles wasting away) may be experienced. A discoid meniscus has also been referred to as "snapping knee syndrome".
Meniscus Tear and Knee Pain Treatments
It is the blood in your body that heals and repairs damage to your tissue. By transporting oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissue and flushing away dead cells, your blood helps your body to heal itself. Unfortunately, when a meniscus injury occurs and you have knee pain you need to prevent further injury and rest the area to allow it to heal. By resting, you actually limit the flow of blood and slow the healing process. The trick is to slow tissue damage and generate blood flow to speed healing and prevent further damage.
Ice Compression Therapy
When a tear first occurs or when it is irritated by overuse or re-injury, you experience swelling and inflammation in your knee. Using ice compression to treat a meniscus injury and knee pain reduces pain, swelling, and tissue damage.
Ice compression therapy works by slowing nerve and cell function in the knee. This is important because once blood vessels are damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood to the meniscus and tissue cells begin to break-down.
The Knee Freezie Wrap® allows you to treat yourself in an effective and convenient way and the frigid temperature provided by the Knee Freezie Wrap® slows cell function thereby reducing cellular break-down. Furthermore, because the ice wraps serve to numb the nerves, the wraps also reduce pain!
The ice gel packs inside the Freezie Wrap® have been designed with ColdCure Technology®. This allows the pack to be supercharged in the freezer and keep a frigid temperature for the duration of the treatment. This unique technology, inside a soft and completely adjustable neoprene wrap, gives you comfortable, convenient, and effective ice cold compression therapy.
Inferno Wrap® Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
Once inflammation and swelling have been reduced in your knee, nourishing and strengthening the tissue in your joint is the goal. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) promotes blood flow to the treatment area bringing the necessary oxygen and nutrients to your meniscus and other weakened tissue. BFST® speeds up the body's natural repair process for faster healing and stronger tissue.
Remember, the meniscus is cartilage and does not receive much blood flow naturally and when you rest your knee, you are not creating the natural blood flow your knee usually receives. With the use of Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ you can increase your bodys blood supply to the knee and healing power.
In addition, the fresh blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins (including lactic acid, commonly found in trigger points) that have built up from the injury leaving the area clean and better prepared for healing. Our Knee Inferno Wrap® provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief with no side effects.
Keeping your knee as healthy and strong as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to get back to your regular activities faster. The Knee Inferno Wrap®, available exclusively from MendMeShop®, provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
The benefits of BFST® do not end once your knee pain stops! Even when your meniscus has healed, your activities can put your knee at risk of an overuse injury, tightness, or another tear. An Inferno Wrap® treatment before activity is an easy way to warm up the knee tissues and prepare them for use. Then, end your day with another treatment to prevent tightness from setting in overnight. This incredible healing tool will be the ticket to healthy knees for years to come!
During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your knee area until your pain and inflammation settle. With these therapies you will notice great improvement within a few weeks, with most meniscus patients seeing some improvement quickly. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results. If you start using your knee before it has a chance to heal properly (even though it may feel better), you can end up doing a lot more damage than good!
Physical Therapy is a beneficial way to help decrease pain in the soft tissues, restore atrophied muscles and improve knee and leg strength and mobility. The type of physical therapy and the duration will be dependent on the extent of your meniscus injury.
Gentle massage around the injured knee area or small flexing or extending knee movements (if not painful) will also help increase blood flow, oxygen, nutrients, and will prevent stiffness.
Once your pain starts to diminish, a physiotherapist will set up an individualized knee and leg strengthening and stretching exercise program for you to perform at home or in the gym. This will be based on your needs and abilities, and will help you return to performing your normal routines. Individuals will often exercise or lift weights on their own to try and build up their strength; however in doing so, they can do more damage. It is extremely important to strengthen your muscles properly, as they may have weakened during the period of non-use. A trained therapist will help to ensure your rehabilitation process is effective. For best, long-term results use physical therapy along with an exercise program.