A common knee problem experienced by individuals is a torn meniscus, the cartilage that acts as a pad that mitigates pressure on the joint during strenuous leg activities. When the meniscus is injured, pain and discomfort are common symptoms; in extreme cases, swelling and tautness are visible and the person will have a hard time bending his knees. Due to these physical warning signs, the injury is often confused with arthritis and the patient would resort to taking pain killers instead of having the area checked by a physician.
To help you take the guesswork out of the equation, here are common signs and symptoms of an injured meniscus:
- A minor tear exhibits pain and swelling but not enough to keep the person from walking and running. Given the proper care and rest, the symptoms subside in two or three weeks. In most cases, the individual would not even know that he had a minor knee injury unless an x-ray is done on the affected area.
- Inflexibility of the knee, apart from the common pain and swelling, is usually observed for moderate tears. Pain is localized on the side and center of the knee, causing the person a slight limp in his gait. The patient is strongly encouraged to refrain from activities that might cause him to accidentally twist his knee. The pain and swelling may subside but could come back whenever the knee is subjected to too much pressure, including significant weight gain of the patient.
- Popping and locking of the knee could mean a severe case of a meniscus tear. These are caused by torn cartilages that have moved to the joint space, making it difficult to straighten the knee after prolonged sitting or squatting. This type of meniscus injury may take the patient by surprise as the knee may give way without warning. You need to be given the proper medication and knee support to avoid accidents that may permanently damage your joints.
The person’s regular activities, profession, health condition, and especially age, all come into play in determining the causes and cures of an injured knee. It is best to see your doctor when you notice recurring discomfort, pain, and swelling in the area.
There are different methods to address this type of knee injury and a doctor would exhaust all efforts to keep the patient from going under the knife. Most meniscus injuries heal on its own as long as it is given the proper care and rest that the damage normally requires. A surgery may be needed if the doctor finds that leaving your injury to repair by itself may pose more complications. Extreme cases of wounded cartilages not addressed properly graduate to osteoarthritis which may eventually cripple the patient.
As always, prevention is better than cure. Take care of your knees with proper diet, exercise, and rest. Nothing beats standing on your own two feet.