5 Activities that Can Lead to Meniscus Injury

5 Activities that Can Lead to Meniscus Injury

Each of your knees comes with a shock absorber of sorts — the meniscus. It’s a “C”-shaped piece of cartilage that resides between your shinbone and thighbone. The meniscus not only protects your knee joint, it evens out your weight across the joint so it doesn’t sustain too much pressure. 

When all’s right with your meniscus, it serves you well, but a torn meniscus spells trouble, and pain. Meniscus tears are incredibly common, and approximately 1 million people suffer one each year. 

Fortunately, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Struan Coleman has extensive experience treating meniscus injuries, but he’s also a believer in practicing preventive strategies and regularly educates patients on what they can do to avoid injury if at all possible. He approaches your care with expertise and a listening ear, a combination that makes him a trusted and relied upon practitioner. 

How a meniscus injury slows you down

Meniscus injury symptoms, in addition to knee pain, include:

Though a minor tear may barely be noticeable, you’ll want to call us if you’re sidelined for more than a few weeks. 

5 common causes of meniscus injury

It’s important to know which activities are most likely to lead to meniscus damage. You can’t completely prevent these tears, of course, but understanding how your body works and trying to maintain proper form can help lower your risk. 

1. Twisting injuries

A common way to injure your meniscus is rotating or twisting your knee while your foot is firmly planted on the ground. 

You’re frequently positioned and moving like this when you play football, and if someone tackles you, your knee is often destabilized during this maneuver. Tennis players are also at risk. However, it’s just as easy to tear your meniscus when you’re not playing a sport at all — you might just be lifting a heavy object. 

2. Repeated squatting and raising and lowering your body 

These movements make you more likely to suffer a meniscus tear. That’s why individuals who work in certain occupations experience tears more often. These lines of work include carpentry, plumbing, and mechanic work.  

3. Rapid steps 

Runners and speed walkers are at particular risk for meniscus tears since taking quick steps, especially when on an uneven surface, can cause a rupture or tear of your meniscus. 

4. Simple trips and falls

A fall can end in a meniscus injury, since losing your balance and falling brings pressure when the side or front of your knee hits the ground. This also pushes your knee joint to the side, upping your risk even more. 

5. Everyday activities

Unfortunately, even actions you perform daily can lead to a meniscus tear. These include rising up out of a seated position and climbing the stairs. 

These types of tears are often due to knee degeneration associated with aging. In fact, because the meniscus becomes thinner and weakens as we age, older adults suffer meniscus tears more often than athletes. 

Steps you can take to avoid meniscus injury, in addition to being aware of these causes, are to do exercises that help strengthen the muscles that support your knee, increase the intensity of your exercise gradually, and wear the correct shoes for the sport you’re playing. A knee brace can also help stabilize your knee. 

Meniscus injury treatment options

The treatment plan that Dr. Coleman creates for meniscus injuries depends a lot on the severity of the tear. If it’s minor or moderate, rest may be all you need to recover from the injury in a matter of several weeks. 

If your tear is severe, stray pieces of meniscus may migrate to your knee joint, leading to the popping and catching problems we referred to earlier. You might also find yourself unable to bend or straighten your knee completely.

If your injury is significant, Dr. Coleman performs knee arthroscopy — a minimally invasive surgery — to take out stray meniscus tissue from your joint and make other repairs. 

Knee arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure that typically takes an hour or less and is associated with faster healing and less pain, bleeding, and scarring than traditional open surgery. Post-surgical infection risk is also lower. 

Don’t delay seeking treatment if you’re experiencing symptoms of a meniscus injury. Dr. Coleman’s years of treating professional athletes makes him uniquely qualified to treat you, no matter what condition you need to address. 

Call our West Side, Locust Valley, or Philadelphia location to schedule an appointment, or reach out to us through our website.

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