As we age, we have to be a little more careful. Our cartilage and muscles may not be getting the regular exercise they used to, which helps them become more susceptible to injury. If you’ve recently heard a “pop” in your knee, maybe while you were moving out of a chair or lifting a grandchild, you may have torn a meniscus. Keep reading to learn about this little piece of cartilage and what it does for our knees.
What is a Meniscus?
Your Menisci are two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that sit between the thigh bone and shinbone, cushioning the joint during impact. They’re tough and rubbery to keep the joint stable and protected. Your knee is composed of your thibone, shinbone, and the kneecap, which sits at the front of the knee joint.
How do you identify a torn Meniscus?
Often, you may feel a “pop” in your knee when you tear a meniscus. Many people can still walk on the knee, and athletes have been known to continue playing after they’ve torn a meniscus. After a couple days, your knee will start to show signs of injury, becoming more swollen and stiff.
The most common symptoms of meniscus tear are:
- Stiffness and swelling
- Your knee locking up
- The sensation of your knee “giving way”
- You are not able to move your knee through its full range of motion
Sometimes, with a more severe tear, a piece of meniscus can come loose and end up in the joint. This can cause more problems, like your knee locking up or not being able to straighten your leg fully.
Can it heal on its own?
Often, a tear that is less than 5 millimeters can heal on its own, especially if it occurs in a younger person. Rather than having surgery, your doctor may recommend that you wear a brace for a few weeks to keep the knee immobile. Physical therapy is also a good idea to help rehabilitate the knee after your physician has deemed it safe.