Injuries to the knee are very common among athletes; however, it is not just athletes who are affected by conditions such as a meniscus tear. What is a meniscus tear though, and what can be done to help with the pain? These are important questions that those affected by this condition need answered. Below we will have a look at how meniscus tears happen and whether getting a knee brace for meniscus injury is a good idea or not.
What is a Meniscus Injury and How Does It Happen?
Cushioning the knee joint and acting like a shock absorber are two pieces of cartilage known as menisci. This cartilage is a rubbery disc that provides protection between the knee joint and the bones on either side (the femur and the tibia).
Sporting activities such as running, basketball, and football, where sudden twisting movements are common, can place pressure on the knee joint and result in a tear to the meniscus. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that this type of injury does not just affect sports participators. A meniscus tear can happen with any sudden twisting movement of the knee. It commonly occurs in those lifting heavy items and who move the knee while the foot is planted in one position. As people get older, the meniscus cartilage becomes more worn, making injury all the more likely.
Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear
The severity of the meniscus tear will determine what type of symptoms the person experiences. For example, a small tear may mean swelling of the knee area coupled with minor pain. A tear like this will usually heal itself within a few weeks.
With a more moderate tear, the swelling will be worse and it may progress over a few days. Pain tends to be localized in one position, either at the center or to the side of the knee, and although the individual is able to walk, he or she may struggle to bend the knee as it feels quite stiff. When trying to bend the knee, it is not uncommon to experience sharp pain. Those with a severe tear will find that using a knee brace for meniscus injury is extremely beneficial. This will help provide support to the knee and prevent further injury. A knee brace for a meniscus injury can help symptoms lessen and finally disappear within one to two weeks. It is important to take care of the knee during this time though to prevent lasting damage and pain that could end up persisting for years.
Severe tears are extremely painful and can cause the knee to lock or catch. This might prevent the individual from being able to straighten the knee joint. A severe tear can mean that small pieces of the torn cartilage get into the space between the knee and the leg bones. This often results in swelling and stiffness, with an inability to straighten the leg.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Meniscus Injury
If you suffer a knee injury while playing sports and you experience pain and swelling, it is a good idea to have a doctor check it out. You may not even know how your knee injury has occurred, especially if you are older as meniscus tears can occur just by going from a sitting to a standing position. If your knee pops or gives way and you are in pain, then you should get it checked by a doctor.
The doctor will usually perform a physical examination of the knee and may bend and straighten it to see if he or she can hear a pop. This could indicate a tear. You may be sent for a knee x-ray, MRI, ultrasound, or arthroscopy. Each of these imaging tests can be used to determine the cause of the knee pain and swelling. An x-ray will not be able to detect a meniscus tear though, so you could be sent for further testing if no other reason for the pain can be found.
Treatment for a meniscus tear usually includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation, known as the RICE method. This method is typically used for self-treatment and many people will find that applying ice every three to four hours will help. To reduce inflammation, a knee brace for a meniscus tear is wise. This compresses the knee and encourages blood flow, and it will help to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Elevation can also assist in reducing swelling.
Keeping weight off the knee is important, particularly in the first day or two of the injury. For moderate to severe tears, a doctor might recommend physical therapy to help with a return to normal mobility. Physical therapy can also reduce stiffness and strengthen the knee muscles. When the tear has healed, it may be helpful to wear a knee brace during physical activity to prevent another injury from occurring.
Now you know why a knee brace for meniscus injury is important. For a look at the very best knee braces for 2018, feel free to click on this link and check out our review piece.