Torn Meniscus

Young man smiling while playing basketball outside

Torn Meniscus Treatment in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA, and Tempe, AZ

Often caused by an athletic injury, tearing the meniscus can lead to pain, decreased mobility, and long-term joint problems. The medical team at Reflex Knee Specialists can diagnose and treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions, including a torn meniscus. Our providers use cutting-edge medical technologies to treat knee pain without surgery at our office locations in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; and Tempe, Arizona. Learn more about diagnosing and treating a torn meniscus.

What Causes a Torn Meniscus?

The meniscus is a band of fibro-cartilage that cushions the space between the femur and the tibia. Each knee joint has two menisci, one lateral (outside aspect of the knee) and one medial (inside aspect). A meniscus can tear when too much stress is placed on the knee or a sudden, forceful movement twists the joint. Meniscus tears often happen when a person is playing sports.

Among older adults, the meniscal tissue undergoes degeneration, making it more susceptible to breakdown or injury.  In the presence of chronic inflammation caused by osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, tissue breakdown is accelerated, which can increase the chances of a meniscus tear. It is very common for patients to tear a meniscus during a routine task, such as stepping off a curb or getting out of a vehicle.

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Torn Meniscus Symptoms

Some common signs of a meniscus tear include:

Sharp pain in the knee
Swelling or stiffness in the knee joint
Weakness, buckling, or instability in the knee
Clicking or locking in the joint

Most degenerative tears do not cause any symptoms.

Diagnosing a Torn Meniscus

A torn meniscus can often be diagnosed with a physical examination. The provider will document the patient’s symptoms and how the injury happened. The examination will check the patient’s ability to bend and extend the knee, squat down, and put weight on the joint.

Our providers may use diagnostic imaging to rule out other knee joint problems, which can include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or X-rays. Patients at Reflex Knee Specialists also have access to dynamic ultrasound testing. This advanced imaging technology allows ourproviders to visualize the front and back of the meniscus using an ultrasound probe while the patient moves their knee into different positions.

Torn Meniscus Treatment Options

Conservative treatments for a torn meniscus are focused on minimizing symptoms and improving the range of motion in the knee. These may include:

RICE treatment: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can decrease swelling in the joint immediately after an injury.
Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce pain and swelling.
Bracing: Using a knee brace can help stabilize the joint and offload the meniscal tear, which reduces pain during the recovery period.
Physical therapy: Working with a skilled physical therapist can help a patients improve their joint mobility and strengthen the knee.

We also offer platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, which helps accelerate the body’s natural healing processes. PRP therapy injects plasma and platelets from a sample of the patient’s blood to reduce pain and inflammation.  PRP also stimulates proliferation of meniscal cells, which may also help fortify the meniscal tissue. While these conservative treatments can be very effective, severe and complex tears that are preventing the knee from extending or flexing properly may require surgery.

When to See a Doctor

Even if a knee injury doesn’t cause much pain, it’s still important to see a healthcare provider for a comprehensive evaluation. A patient should make an appointment if:

The knee joint is swollen or painful
There is increased knee pain after certain activities
The knee buckles when walking
They notice a clicking or grinding sensation in the knee
The knee locks into place or is difficult to extend fully
 

Preventing Meniscus Injuries

Active individuals and athletes should take steps to prevent knee injuries like meniscus tears. The team at Reflex Knee Specialists recommends:

Strengthening the muscles that support the knee
Easing into new forms of exercise or sports
Wearing a knee brace or sleeve for added support
Having regular knee evaluations to rule out conditions like osteoarthritis that weaken meniscal tissue
 

For patients who have knee osteoarthritis, treatments like PRP and joint fluid therapy can reduce inflammation and slow degeneration of the joint.

Schedule a Consultation with a Knee Specialist Today

Patients who have experienced a knee injury such as a torn meniscus should make an appointment with the experienced providers at Reflex Knee Specialists. Specializing in a wide range of innovative, non-surgical treatments for knee pain, we have offices in Portland, Oregon, Bellevue, Washington, and Tempe, Arizona. Our medical team helps patients live without painby developing personalized treatment plans and only recommending surgery when necessary. To schedule an appointment, call or contact us today.