Meniscus tear: causes and prevention

The meniscus tear is a common injury among the population, especially among athletes. It is important to treat the injury appropriately, so that the patient can recover normality in shorter times. Some joints that have menisci are, for example, the knee, wrist or temporomandibular joint.

Tipos de cirugía de rodilla mínimamente invasivas más comunes

What are the menisci and what is their function?

The menisci are cartilaginous structures located in the knee joint, between the femur and tibia. They are composed mainly of water and collagen, and have a hard and elastic structure.

There is the internal meniscus and the external meniscus. Both are divided into three parts: posterior horn, body and anterior horn. The medial meniscus has a more open structure, making it more prone to sports injuries. For its part, the external meniscus has a very closed structure.

They are characterized by acting as shock absorbers and absorbing impacts, which means less tension on the cartilage. In addition, they play a fundamental role in knee mobility and provide stability to the joint. There is the internal meniscus and external meniscus, and in both you can distinguish the anterior horn and the posterior horn.

Most common injuries to the menisci

The meniscus injuries, can be caused by various reasons depending on their cause. Firstly, due to trauma, common among athletes, and which is caused by a severe blow or twist, or by a twisting mechanism. Meniscus injury can also have a degenerative origin.

As for the cartilage lesions, several types can be differentiated depending on the causes. On the one hand, traumatic injuries are common in athletes and are caused by trauma or sudden movements that often occur while playing sports. Secondly, degenerative lesions are differentiated, these, however. They are common among elderly people. The main cause is wear and tear of the joint and loss of elasticity of the meniscus. In these cases, the injury occurs without the need for aggressive movement to the joint.

meniscus tear

The Meniscus tear is one of the most common knee injuries, occurs when continuity with the joint is lost, although tears can also occur inside the meniscus, which is known as meniscopathy. Among the most common meniscopathies, you can find tear and rupture of meniscus.

As explained, meniscus tears can be of two types: on the one hand, traumatic tears, which generally occur in young people, and are caused by trauma or a sudden movement, which, in many cases, can be accompanied by rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament. They are usually large tears, for example, a broken bucket handle, which affects the meniscus practically in its entirety.

On the other hand, there are degenerative lesions, which usually occur during daily activities. In this case, they are usually smaller tears, the edges of which irritate the cartilage and cause pain, for example, a parrot's beak break.

Síntomas rotura de menisco

Symptoms of meniscus tear

Meniscus tears usually present symptoms in the patient; it is common for them to feel acute pain when making minimal efforts, which is usually accompanied by stiffness and immobility in the joint and weakness in the affected leg.

In many cases, the patient may present inflammation in the area, caused by the creation of a parameniscal cyst around the meniscus.

In cases of degenerative tears, caused by wear and dehydration of the meniscus, it is likely that the patient will not present symptoms, or that symptoms will appear over time.

Diagnosis of meniscus tear

When the patient goes to the specialist with pain in the knee joint, the first thing that is performed is a palpation and physical examination of the meniscus. To do this, the McMurray test is usually performed, in which the knee is flexed and rotated, observing whether the meniscus becomes tense.

Immediately afterwards, the necessary imaging tests will be performed. A patient can be subjected to an x-ray, in which the meniscus is not observed, but, in cases of tear due to wear, the degree of osteoarthritis can be assessed. However, the most useful test for diagnosis is MRI.

In more extreme cases, in which the previous tests do not provide sufficient information, an arthroscopy can be performed, which allows observing the inside of the knee, for a more precise exploration of the meniscus.

Treatments for meniscus tears

When diagnose a meniscus tearFirst of all, it is usually recommended that the patient rest and reduce pressure on the knee, avoiding sudden movements or forced positions. In addition, ice is usually applied to the area and the patient must remain with their leg elevated, so that the muscles relax. In these cases, anti-inflammatory treatment is usually prescribed to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Physiotherapy treatments, which focus on the rehabilitation and strengthening of the muscles surrounding the knee, with the aim of stabilizing the joint, usually offer good results.

In some cases, stem cell transfusions in the meniscus, the objective of this treatment is the regeneration of the affected cartilage and recover its self-healing capacity, in order to avoid future injuries to the cartilage.

Sometimes, especially after traumatic ruptures, it is necessary for the patient to undergo a menisectomy, that is, a arthroscopy surgery, in which a part of the meniscus or, in some cases, the entire meniscus will be removed. However, a meniscus suture is usually attempted, which offers better long-term results, since the menisci have areas that receive blood flow (vascularized).

Recuperación tras una operación de menisco

Meniscus surgery: recovery time

The recovery after meniscus surgery, is usually quick and anti-inflammatory treatment is usually prescribed, so that the patient does not experience pain. For the first few days, the patient must use crutches to not support the foot and avoid tension in the operated joint.

In this type of recovery, rehabilitation is of great importance, since it prevents muscle atrophy and helps strengthen the muscles that support the joint. In conclusion, total recovery usually ranges between three and four months.

How to take care of your knees to avoid a meniscus tear?

Meniscus tears are usually inevitable. However, there are certain guidelines that help prevent them. First of all, sports that involve excessive and repeated impact on the joint, as well as activities that place the knee in forced positions, should be avoided.

It is recommended to perform low-impact sports on a regular basis, which will help control body weight, keep the area strengthened and provide stability to the joint.

As has been seen, it is important to acquire healthy lifestyle habits to avoid, as far as possible, meniscus tears. Furthermore, in case of breakage, special attention must be paid to the knee rehabilitation through physiotherapy to avoid chronic injuries to the meniscus.

6 thoughts on “Rotura de menisco: causas y prevención”

  1. Hello, I am a mountain runner who, after 2 months of knee pain, had an MRI of my knee and I would like to know what the diagnosis means and what options I would have to continue practicing this sport.
    The diagnosis states the following:
    Complex tear of the body and posterior horn of the medial meniscus with a 25 mm longitudinal horizontal line opening the lower articular surface and an oblique radial tear at the junction between the body and posterior horn. Thank you very much in advance and I await your response.

    • Good morning,
      According to the report, it is a tear with several strokes and a small intervention would be necessary: we can try to seal and suture the meniscus so that it is preserved.
      You can make an appointment by calling 34 910 053 900

      We will wait for you!

  2. Good morning, I have a vertical tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus and I would like to know if it requires surgery. In the MRI, the findings are lateral meniscus with a hyperintense linear lesion in Dp sequence inside the posterior horn of the medial meniscus, with vertical morphology, which contacts the surface of the articular surface, what would be the treatment

    • Hello Rosana,
      It is difficult to give you an answer only with the data you provide us. We should evaluate the images and perform a clinical examination to make a diagnosis. We invite you to request an appointment by calling 910 053 900 to evaluate your case personally.

      All the best


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At Clínica Elgeadi we are committed to our community and open to advise and answer any question whenever possible.

To offer an accurate diagnosis to the patient, a personalized evaluation and a thorough review of their medical history will always be necessary. Once the case has been studied individually, the most appropriate treatment will be recommended to the patient according to their pathology and/or illness.

Furthermore, from the Elgeadi clinic, we would like to remind you that no medication will be prescribed without prior consultation.

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