Don't wait any longer to find relief for your meniscus tears.
The knee is a complex joint that connects two bones in the leg, the femur and the tibia. The joint is protected at the front by a small flat bone called the patella. During movements, the joints are kept stable and mobile by layers of cartilage, which act as a cushion and prevent the bones from rubbing against each other.
In particular, each knee has two C-shaped pads of cartilage – the menisci – located on each side of the joint. These cushioning wedges are located where the femur meets the tibia and play the vital roles of keeping the bones stable, absorbing shock, and distributing weight during movement.
Although these cartilaginous pads are able to withstand significant loads, they are prone to injuries such as tears. A torn meniscus is often the result of contact and non-contact trauma, or degenerative changes of the knee, which usually happen as part of the aging process.
Below, we’ll look at the causes of a torn meniscus in more detail.
The age-related degenerative changes that occur in the knee joint as we get older are one of the main causes of meniscus tears. This is because, as we age, the cartilage between the joints loses its elasticity and suppleness.
The thinning of the cartilage makes the menisci more prone to wear and tear injuries, which can be caused by something as simple as standing up from a seated position.
The peak prevalence of meniscal tears is in adults aged between 41 and 50 because, at this age, the cartilage begins to degenerate but most adults remain active, making injuries more likely.
If the meniscal tear is caused by an injury and not by degenerative changes in the knee it is referred to as an acute meniscus tear. These injuries often occur as a result of a sudden and aggressive twisting or pivoting of the knee. For example, twisting your upper leg while your foot is planted on the ground may tear the meniscus.
These injuries are most commonly seen among athletes, especially those playing sports such as football, tennis, basketball, rugby, and contact sports.
Acute meniscal tears are often associated with other knee injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. These can occur as a result of direct trauma, falling on the side of the knee, or receiving a direct blow to the knee, such as during a rugby tackle. It is estimated that 52% to 63% of those with an ACL tear may also have a meniscus tear.
Some risk factors may speed up the degeneration of the menisci in the knee and make tears more likely. These include the following:
As we have seen, meniscus tears can be either acute or chronic and depending on the extent and location of the injury, you may experience a range of different symptoms.
Injuries to the knee menisci are categorized based on the shape of the tear and include bucket handle tears, flap tears, radial tears, and degenerative tears.
While severe tears are accompanied by a “popping” sound at the time of injury, degenerative tears aggravate over time.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of meniscal tears:
If you experience pain in your knee, you may be dealing with a meniscal tear. The painful sensations can be mild or severe and vary in nature: some individuals experience ongoing pain that intensifies when twisting or rotating the knee, while others have knee pain that comes and goes.
Injuries to the cartilage that composes the meniscus can lead to the bones rubbing against each other during movement, which can cause irritation and inflammation in the knee components. In turn, high levels of inflammation are accompanied by a build-up of fluids and increased blood flow to the site of injury, which translates into swelling and stiffness.
Besides an initial “pop”, which you may hear if the meniscus is torn suddenly, other symptoms include “clicking” and “popping” sounds that become noticeable while you walk or bend your knee. These noises are often accompanied by a catching or locking sensation when you bend or stretch the knee.
These symptoms occur due to the fact that the torn or worn cartilage causes changes in the knee mechanics. For example, the bones may start to rub against each and the surrounding ligaments can slap from one bony surface to another during movement.
In the case of severe tears, parts of the meniscus cartilage may also get caught between bones during movement.
A torn meniscus may prevent you from moving your knee as you should, which can lead to difficulty in straightening your knee fully, feelings of instability in the knee, and limping.
If left untreated, a torn meniscus may impact how the weight is distributed from the femur to the tibia during movement. This can change the way you walk and lead to deformities.
Minor meniscus tears can heal on their own with conservative measures and at-home remedies, such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation. But regardless of how severe the tear is, meniscus injuries should never be left unaddressed. Indeed, without adequate treatment, you may be at greater risk of complications such as dislocations and arthritis.
What’s more, in the case of a severe tear, parts of the meniscus can slip into the joint, and that may require surgical intervention.
Meniscal tears are extremely common, but this does not make living with this condition any easier. Most patients with an acute or degenerative meniscal tear face two, equally undesirable options: undergoing surgery or taking medications daily to cope with the pain.
Fortunately, advances in regenerative medicine are offering patients a valid alternative that is non-surgical. Let’s look at the treatments combined at Orthagenex to provide patients with research-backed treatment programs for meniscal tears.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) refers to autologous blood samples that have been processed to have platelet concentrations that are 10-40 times higher than baseline levels a lab setting. The use of PRP for meniscus tears in regenerative medicine has received significant interest, due to its ability to deliver high concentrations of growth factors precisely and non-invasively to an area in need.
PRP procedures involve injecting the body’s own healing factors (platelets) into the injured tissue using image guidance with fluoroscopy and MSK ultrasound. This procedure can be used to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions, including joint instability, minor arthritis, ligament, and tendon injuries, and strains.
More than 30 randomized controlled trials have been carried out on the effectiveness of PRP to support the body’s ability to heal naturally by stimulating the stem cells within the targeted area. In the case of meniscus tears, reviews have shown that PRP treatments can improve the native functionalities of the meniscus.
Stem cells are an essential component of the human body and play an important role in the repair of injured bones, ligaments, tendons, and other tissues. However, when we age or suffer an injury, the body may become unable to deliver enough stem cells to the area in need.
To help with this, bone marrow concentrate procedures at Orthagenex use imaging guidance to deliver concentrated bone marrow containing stem cells to the area in need. This encourages the body’s inherent ability to heal itself by replenishing the stem cell population in the injured area.
In practice, bone marrow concentrate procedures are carried out by cannulating the bone near the pelvis with a trocar, a sharp-tipped device. This provides a narrow tunnel that can be used to collect samples of the bone marrow’s liquid component, which is rich in stem cells.
BMC procedures can assist patients in improving their knee health and mobility without the lengthy and painful rehabilitation periods associated with surgery.
Meniscal tears are among the most common knee injuries. But the fact that they are highly prevalent does not help patients deal with the subsequent pain, impaired knee functions, and reduced range of motion.
Fortunately, knee replacement surgeries and painkillers are no longer the only two lines of treatment to consider. Thanks to the procedures offered at Orthagenex, you can improve your knee health without the need for knee surgery.
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